Still Life with Bowl (Translation)
Nature morte a la coupe (Primary Title)

Paul Gauguin, French, 1848 - 1903 (Artist)

ca. 1889–91
oil on canvas
Unframed: 8 × 12 3/8 in. (20.32 × 31.43 cm)
Framed: 14 1/4 × 18 1/2 × 3 1/8 in. (36.2 × 46.99 × 7.94 cm)
The small assortment of tropical fruits in this painting suggests that it dates from Gauguin's visit to Tahiti. Yet the artist is more interested in using his subject as a pretense for incorporating bright, monochromatic regions into his composition than documenting the distinct culinary culture of the region. The pairings of citrus and mangos seem to have been arbitrarily discovered in this arrangement rather than deliberately conceived, but Gauguin appears equally unconcerned with both realism and traditional Academic conventions of composition. His use of blue to create unnatural shadows below the fruit reveals the continuing influence of Synthetism, while the abrupt and somewhat confounding cropping of his subject discloses the composition's indebtedness to Japanese woodblock prints. This still life also exemplifies the disregard in Gauguin's mature work for the linear perspective that had been one of the mainstays of European art since the Renaissance and indicates his rejection of European culture generally, which he perceived to be inherently corrupt. He left for Tahiti in June 1891, in search of a way of life there that predated materialist concerns, one that corresponded to the "primitive ideal" he imagined to be the only valid cultural alternative. Ultimately disenchanted with the French colonialism that had taken hold there, he returned to Europe in July 1893.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
2019-2020: "Van Gogh Monet Degas, The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", Palazzo Zabarella, Padua, Italy, October 26, 2019 - March 1, 2020

2019-2021: Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, February 2 - May 5, 2019; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS, April 4, 2020 - January 10, 2021

2018-2019: "Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", The Frick Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, March 17 - July 15, 2018; Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 22 - September 22, 2019
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Curator’s Talk: The Reinstallation of the Mellon Collection

The collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts given by Paul and Rachel Mellon constitute an essential facet of the museum’s identity. Dr. Sylvain Cordier, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art, discusses the reinstallation of the Mellon Collection.

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.