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A Vase of Flowers
Paul Gauguin
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Gauguin painted this still life soon after he had arrived in Tahiti for his second and final stay in 1895. Exotic red bougainvillea and hibiscus, white and yellow frangipani, white tiare and large blue leaves burst out of a dark clay pot. They look as though they are slightly past their best, and some blossoms have fallen onto the table top. What seems to have interested Gauguin is the pattern of decorative shapes and the delicate interweaving of reds, creams and blues against the gold background rather than the horticultural detail.

Gauguin may have started this extravagant bouquet as a study of an actual floral arrangement but finished it from imagination, as it has the same dream-like quality as his Tahitian figure paintings. In 1899, when the dealer Ambroise Vollard asked Gauguin to send him some flower paintings for sale, the artist replied that he had ‘done only a few’ because ‘I do not copy nature – today even less than formerly. With me, everything happens in my exuberant imagination.’

Key facts
Artist Paul Gauguin
Artist dates 1848 - 1903
Full title A Vase of Flowers
Date made 1896
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 64 x 74 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1918
Inventory number NG3289
Location in Gallery Not on display
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