Still Life with Oysters (Primary Title)

Paul Gauguin, French, 1848 - 1903 (Artist)

oil on canvas
Unframed: 21 × 36 3/4 in. (53.34 × 93.35 cm)
Framed: 27 7/8 × 43 1/2 in. (70.8 × 110.49 cm)
This large-format still life is among the earliest examples of Gauguin's artistic production. When the artist signed it, he was in his late twenties and working as a stockbroker. The same year, his 1875 Landscape from Viroflay (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen) became his first work to be accepted for public exhibition at the Salon. He had begun receiving artistic training and frequenting a studio to practice life drawing only a few years earlier. This germinal experiment in the still-life genre illustrates Gaugin's interest in modern methods and styles of painting even while he was still mastering his technique with the medium. The emphatic brush marks and salient use of black catch the viewer's eye using tactics that immediately bring to mind Manet's avant-garde approach. Over the next five years, Gauguin collected paintings by Manet and other artists, including Jongkind and some of the leading figures of Impressionism, absorbing their influence into his evolving artistic practice. The stock market crash of 1882 put a definitive end to his career in finance, and he was finally able to dedicate himself to painting full time.
signed and dated, lower left: "P. Gauguin 1876"
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

“Friction of Ideas: Gauguin, Van Gogh, Bernard,” Ordrupgaard Museum, Copenhagen, Feb. 6-June 22, 2014.

“Gauguin and Impressionism,” Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth, Dec. 18, 2005-March 26, 2006; Ordrupgaard Museum, Copenhagen, Aug. 30-Nov. 20, 2005.

“Gauguin,” Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, Switzerland, June 10-Nov. 22, 1998.

“French Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon and Mrs Mellon Bruce,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, March 17-May 1, 1966.

“Gauguin,” Haus der Kunst, Munich, 1960, No. 3.

“Gauguin,” Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1960, No. 3 bis.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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