Paul Gauguin Self Portrait Poster Print
Self Portrait Giclee Print
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When we turn to Gauguin's life, we find that perhaps in him too there was a disproportion between the modest scale of his gifts and his pretensions which were not always on the same scale. When his own will did not share in the decision, fate brought about grotesque disproportions. Born in Paris in 1848, the son of an insignificant journalist, he had before him, in contrast to the narrow circle which bounded his own life, the exotic and luxurious flora of his mother's family, among whom there figured a Spanish colonel and a Viceroy of Peru who lived to be 113 years old. It seems almost like the narrative of a film that the father should die on the way to the wonderful country from which he hoped so much, and the mother and children arrive alone in Lima, where they remained for four years. Then came the return to Orleans and the narrow life of the first years. At seventeen Paul entered the mercantile marine and was still a sailor when the Franco-Prussian war broke out. After that he became a clerk in a bank. In 1873 he married a Danish girl of good family who bore him five children. The stage seemed set for a peaceful middle-class existence, when suddenly he was seized with the desire to paint. As his work at the Bourse kept him busy during the week, he became what was known as a "Sunday painter". He got to know Pissarro and afterwards the other Impressionists, whose pictures he purchased out of his savings. His landscapes at this time were soft and pretty, pointed with a timid application of Impressionistic technique. With painting as his "violon d'Ingres" he was now able to lead a modest but happy existence. But he wanted to soar higher still, he gave up his work at the bank and devoted himself entirely to painting. As was only natural, he failed to sell any of his pictures and was consequently without any source of income. In the vain hope that living would be cheaper there, he went to Rouen, and thence to Copenhagen, to his wife's family, who were incapable of understanding either him or his actions. He separated from the mother of his children and returned with his son to Paris, where first the child and then he himself fell ill. Years of misery followed, during which he earned a little money by pasting up posters at railway-stations.