Lot 61
  • 61

Paul Gauguin

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
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  • Paul Gauguin
  • La Maison du Pan-Du
  • Signed P.Go, titled and dated 90 (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 19 7/8 by 24 in.
  • 50.3 by 61.1 cm


Georges Bernheim, Paris

Jerome Stonborough, Vienna & New York (acquired from the above)

(His sale: Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, October 17, 1940, lot 73)

French Art Galleries, New York (acquired at the above sale)

Christiana Danielson, New York

Knoedler Gallery, New York

Hammer Galleries, New York

Frederic W. Ziv, Cincinnati (acquired from the above in 1966)

Acquired from the above


Paris, Galerie Dru, 1923, no. 18

Palm Beach, The Society of the Four Arts, Gauguin, 1956, no. 14

New York, Hammer Galleries, Fortieth Anniversary, 1968

Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Collects Paintings, 1983

Cincinnati Art Museum, The Early Works of Paul Gauguin - Genesis of an Artist, 1971, no. 28, illustrated in color in the catalogue


John Rewald, Post Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin, New York, 1956, p. 293 (titled House at Pouldu)

Maurice Malingue, "Du nouveau sur Gauguin," L'Oeil, Paris, July-August 1959, p. 38

Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin, vol. 1, Paris,1965,  no. 395, illustrated p. 152


The canvas is lined. Under UV light, there are a few isolated areas of retouching, most notably in the upper right of the sky, along the upper framing edge and throughout the water. The varnish fluoresces unevenly, particularly in the lower left. Otherwise this work is in good condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This extravagantly colorful landscape of the coastal Breton countryside is one of the pictures that Gauguin completed in 1890, when he was working in Le Pouldu, three miles east of Pont Aven. Although John Rewald referred to the picture as 'The house in Le Pouldu,' Gauguin's title is inscribed at the bottom and probably refers to the abandoned house itself.  In a postcard from this era, we can see this very house perched on the cliffs of the Atlantic (fig. 1).

Executed with lush colors and linear undulations that presage his pictures of the tropics, this composition presents an exoticized depiction of the region, interpreted through the stylization of Gauguin’s late Symbolist aesthetic.  The isolated cottage in the background is the only indication of human presence in the area.  The artist moved to Le Pouldu in June 1890, taking up residence at a small inn on the road to the beach.  His depictions of the desolate region, with its haunting scenery of coastal ravines, wide pasturelands leading out to the ocean and beaches tangled with seaweed, perfectly suited his mood at the time and his longing to escape (figs. 1, 2). "I spend my time dragging my old bones along the beaches of Le Pouldu in the cold North wind," Gauguin wrote of the experience.  The romanticizing of the natural world in this picture and in the others that he painted in Le Pouldu is indicative of Gauguin's desire to escape the trappings of industrialized France in the months prior to his departure for the South Pacific.  Writing to Odilon Redon that September, Gauguin announced his plan: "My mind is made up, and since I've been in Brittany I've altered my decision somewhat.  Even Madagascar is too near the civilized world; I shall go to Tahiti and I hope to end my days there... My art... is only a seedling thus far, and out there I hope to cultivate it for my own pleasure in its primitive and savage state.  In order to do that I must have peace and quiet" (quoted in Colta Ives, "Gauguin in Brittany: Le Pouldu, 1889," in The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. p. 65).   Indeed, it was in Le Pouldu that the seeds of Gauguin's tropical aesthetic had begun to germinate.

Colta Ives expounds upon Gauguin's time in Le Pouldu, the location that has come to be regarded as his 'French Tahiti':  "In the paintings done at Le Pouldu, we see for the first time a marked emphasis on the oriental exoticism that became a potent ingredient of Gauguin's art, as the imported Japanese woodcuts he had encountered in Paris and in the collection of Van Gogh took hold of his imagination, along with impressions of the Japanese and other Far Eastern pavilions at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle...  The firmer abstraction of Gauguin's imagery and the sometimes inscrutable symbolic content that is encountered in this work from this period are surely the outcome of the artist's exposure to novel sights and stimulated thoughts" (ibid.).

La Maison du Pan-du
once belonged to Jerome Stonborough, an American chemist and industrialist living in Europe during the early 20th century.  Stonborough is most famous, however, for marrying Margarethe (Gretl) Wittgenstein, the sister of the Viennese philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.  Upon the couple's marriage Gustav Klimt was commissioned to paint Gretl's portrait, which is now considered one of the artist's best-known works. The present painting belonged to the Stonboroughs until Jerome's death in 1938 and was sold by his heirs in New York in 1940.