This is a painting that Paul Gauguin painted in 1891, shortly before he went on a trip to Tahiti, where years later he was going to establish himself definitively and where he was going to paint his famous paintings set in Polynesia, such as Parau Api or The Moon and the Earth, among many others.
Gauguin's Loss of Virginity
But as we said before that, he painted this picture. And although today the oil painting hangs in the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia (United States), the truth is that the work was done in Paris, and more specifically on his return from a trip to his native Brittany.
On that trip toBrittanyhe had met a seamstress named Juliette Huet, with whom he had relations, she lost her virginity and became pregnant. A fact for which Gauguin never took responsibility, since as we have said, shortly after he left Tahiti, abandoning the girl and the girl who was born from that relationship.
Well, in that context you have to understand this work. We see a Breton landscape, represented by horizontal bands of color. A representation as fauvist and synthetic as he did other times of his homeland, as for example in the canvas Vision after the sermon.
Also as a horizontal band, it presents us with the woman, who has on her face and her breasts afox. An animal that here becomes a symbol of lust, perversity and sexual potency, as it is also understood in Hindu culture. And the woman lying down and naked in turn carries a flower in her hand. A flower spotted red. Which is another obvious symbol, even more so taking into account the title, which also has the sub title Spring Awakening.
On the other hand, in this landscape we see a path followed by a procession, which may well be that of a wedding celebration. Something that has been interpreted as a representation of what would awaitGauguinif he took charge of the pregnancy he had caused
In short, this work can only be understood by knowing the character, personality and life events of Paul Gauguin. It is true that all these symbols can be understood in a more general way, and even with more disturbing interpretations about rural sexual rites or dreams. But the truth is that the meaning of many of the works of thispost-impressionist paintercan be deciphered by following his biography, and here we have an excellent example. An artist who, beyond the vicissitudes of his life, paved the way for other subsequent artists both in the field ofsymbolismand in that of the so-calledFauvism.