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Est: £200,000 GBP - £300,000 GBP
Sotheby'sJune 21, 2005London, United Kingdom

Item Overview


Executed in 1887.

signed P. Gauguin and dated 87 (lower right)

pastel, coloured crayons, gouache and wash over pencil on paper

To be included in the new edition of the Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre de Paul Gauguin being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

(possibly) Claude-Emil Schuffenecker, Paris
Julius Meier-Graefe, Berlin
Bernheim (acquired from the above on 12th October 1907)
Julius Schmits, Elberfeld (acquired from the above on 7th April 1908)
Kunstmuseum, Basel (on loan from the above from 1939-53)
Private Collection
Wildenstein, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Basel, Kunsthalle, Gauguin, 1949-50, no. 108, illustrated in the catalogue
Denver, Art Museum, Collectors' Choice, 1960, no. 48

John Rewald, Gauguin Drawings, New York, 1958, p. 24
Merete Bodelsen, 'Gauguin's Bathing Girl', in Burlington Magazine, no. 674, May 1959, no. 41, illustrated opposite p. 191
Raymond Cogniat & John Rewald, Paul Gauguin, Carnet de croquis, 1961, p. 29
Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin, Paris, 1964, no. 216, illustrated p. 80
Marc Gerstein, Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1981, illustrated p. 10
Richard Brettell, Françoise Cachin, Claire Frèches-Thory & Charles F. Stuckey, The Art of Paul Gauguin (exhibition catalogue), Washington, New York & Boston, 1988, mentioned p. 83

This exquisite gouache relates to Baignade (I), Gauguin's major oil of 1887 in Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires (fig. 1), and to a large preparatory drawing in the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2).

A sketchbook drawing suggests that Gauguin discovered this motif in Brittany during the summer of 1886 (see: R. Cogniat & J. Rewald, Paul Gauguin, A Sketchbook, Paris, 1962, p. 90). Bathers would become one of the artist's key themes, particularly in Tahiti, and this early representation is a clear prototype of Ondine and others.

Baignade (I) was exhibited at Boussod & Valadon in Paris in February 1888, where it drew enthusiastic praise from Félix Fénéon: 'One of the women in the picture, severed at the waist by the water, is broad shouldered and opulently bourgeois in build. On the adjoining grass, amazed, stands a little servant girl with her stiff, cropped hair; she stares, dumbfounded, at her shivering companion, her left hand on her knee, unable to decide whether or not to take the final step. A tree trunk, slender, rectilinear, and smooth, which we have already observed in a painting by Cézanne, separates the figures, dividing the canvas into two panels. Behind them the landscape ceases abruptly, cut off by a sharp, almost vertical rise in the ground which is covered in heavy, reddish foliage. Everything within the curve of the painting seems numb with the heat of day' (F. Fénéon, La Revue Indépendante, 1888, quoted in The Art of Paul Gauguin (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1988, p. 83).

Citing the vegetation, heightened colouring and delicate brushwork of Baignade (I), Claire Frèches-Thory has argued convincingly that it was completed in France upon Gauguin's return from Martinique in November 1887 (The Art of Paul Gauguin (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 82). The vivid palette of the present work, together with its exquisite handling and radically truncated composition, likewise invoke the Caribbean voyage. Indeed, in comparison with the oil version, Baignade (II) demonstrates clearly Gauguin's evolution from naturalism towards the synthétisme of his later years.

FIG.2 Baigneuse, 1887, pastel on paper, The Art Institute of Chicago

FIG.1 Baignade (I), 1887, oil on canvas, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires


11.5 by 40.5cm., 4 1/2 by 16in.

Artist or Maker

Auction Details

Works on Paper

June 21, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

34-35 New Bond Street, London, LDN, W1A 2AA, UK