PREVIEW: Gauguin Portraits, National Gallery

On display from the 7th October, the National Gallery will present the first ever exhibition focusing on the portraits of Paul Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin
Vahine no te vi (Woman with a Mango), 1892
The Baltimore Museum of Art
The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland;
The Baltimore Museum of Art / Photo: Mitro Hood.

Formed of major loans from museums and private collections throughout the world, the National Gallery’s exhibition will reveal how the French artist made an impact on portrait art and how he used it  to express himself and his ideas about art. 

This major exhibition will include a range of media to explore this theme from  sculptures in ceramics and wood to paintings and drawings, visitors see how Gaugin was able to interpret a specific sitter or model over time, and often in different guises. 

Gauguin Portraits will be formed of over fifty works, many of which have rarely been seen together. Highlights of the exhibition will include Madame Mette Gauguin in Evening Dress, 1884 and Soyez Symboliste: Portrait of Moréas.

The first room of the display will concentrate on the artist’s self portraits, highlighting how Gauguin was able to reinvent himself through portraiture. Meanwhile, the second room is focused on the time that Gauguin spent in Brittany where, in the remote village of Le Pouldu, he turned his back on his life as a Paris stockbroker to become the leading figure of a new artists’ colony. Other rooms in the exhibition will concentrate on his relationships with fellow artists, his first Tahitian trip, a selection of portraits in which Gauguin used symbolic objects and finally his late portraits.

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says: “This is the first time that an exhibition focuses on portraits by Gauguin. Never a conventional portrait painter, his radical, highly personal vision led to the creation of a group of works that are striking, moving and at times disturbing. Through paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramics the exhibition explores how he defined his own persona in his self-portraits and how he fashioned the images of friends, lovers and associates.”

Gauguin Portraits will be on display at the National Gallery from the 7th October until the 26th January 2020.

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