Paul , (Eugène-Henri-) Gauguin (b. June 7, 1848, Paris, Fr.–d. May 8, 1903, Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia), one of the leading French painters of the Postimpressionist period, whose development of a conceptual method of representation was a decisive step for 20th-century art. After spending a short period with Vincent van Gogh in Arles (1888), Gauguin increasingly abandoned imitative art for expressiveness through colour. From 1891 he lived and worked in Tahiti and elsewhere in the South Pacific. His masterpieces include the early Vision After the Sermon (1888) and Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897-98).
Although his main achievements were to lie elsewhere, Gauguin was, to use a fanciful metaphor, nursed in the bosom of Impressionism. His attitudes to art were deeply influenced by his experience of its first exhibition, and he himself participated in those of 1880, 1881 and 1882. The son of a French journalist and a Peruvian Creole, whose mother had been a writer and a follower of Saint-Simon, he was brought up in Lima, joined the merchant navy in 1865, and in 1872 began a successful career as a stockbroker in Paris.
The Swineherd, Brittany 1888 (180 Kb); Oil on canvas, 74 x 93 cm (29 x 36 1/2 in); Los Angeles County Museum of Art