Gauguin's Nirvana : Painters at le Pouldu, 1889-90

Shortly before Gauguin made his first Tahitian journey in 1891, he spent nearly two years in the remote Breton fishing village of Le Pouldu. Seeking creative isolation in a primitive setting, he pursued his art accompanied by several followers. One of them was the Dutch painter Meyer de Haan, who was able to pay the living expenses in Le Pouldu and was also knowledgeable in literary and philosophical matters that fascinated Gauguin. Their association resulted in some of Gauguin's most remarkable works, including the Wadsworth Atheneum's symbolist portrait of de Haan inscribed Nirvana. This and the rich variety of paintings and sculpture by Gauguin produced in 1889-90 are the focus of this beautiful book. Gauguin and de Haan settled into an inn at Le Pouldu run by an attractive unwed mother named Marie Henry, who began a liaison with de Haan despite the fact that he was a sickly hunchback. The intensity of relations between Gauguin and de Haan is reflected in many of the works, including frescoes, which they installed in the inn. Gauguin's time in Le Pouldu was crucial to the advancement of his art, and the vivid Breton subjects and personality of Meyer de Haan remained in his imagination to reappear even during his later Tahitian period. In this book several distinguished experts draw on previously unavailable sources to examine in depth the history of this period, Gauguin's relationship with de Haan, their interest in religion and exotic cultures, and the meaning of the many innovative symbolist works they produced.