Lot 36
  • 36

Paul Gauguin

6,000,000 - 8,000,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Paul Gauguin
  • Petit Breton à l'oie
  • Signed and dated P. Gauguin 1889 (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 in.
  • 92 by 73 cm


Mette Gauguin, Copenhagen (the artist's wife)

Boussod et Valadon, Paris (circa 1890)

Joseph Brekpot, Brussels

Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (acquired from the above on December 17, 1906)

Gustave Fayet, Paris (acquired from the above on March 22, 1909)

Paul Rosenberg, Paris & New York (by 1937)

Mrs. Sarah Campbell Blaffer, Houston (acquired from the above in November 1945)

John H. Blaffer, Houston (by descent from his mother)

Mrs. Catherine B. Taylor-Blaffer, Mrs. Camilla B. Royall & Mrs. Sarah B. Hardy, Houston (by descent from their father in 1981)

William Beadleston, New York

J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu (acquired from the above in 1983 and sold: Sotheby's London, November 28, 1989, lot 14)

Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)

Acquired from the above in 1993


Cologne, Städtische Ausstellungshalle, Sonderbund Internationale Ausstellung, 1912, no. 159

Paris, Galerie le Portique, Gauguin, 1931, no. 30

London, Rosenberg & Helft Galleries, Ingres to van Gogh, 1937, no. 13 (titled Paysage de Bretagne)

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Un siècle d’art français, 1938, no. 123

Adelaide, Art Gallery of South Australia; Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria & Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, French and British Contemporary Art, 1939-40, no. 43

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Aspects of French Painting from Cézanne to Picasso, 1941, no. 20

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces of French Art, 1941, no. 66, illustrated in the catalogue

Providence, Rhode Island Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, 1943

Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Gauguin, 1954, no. 9

Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, 19th and 20th Century French Paintings in Houston Collections, 1957, no. 21

New York, Wildenstein & Co., Loan Exhibition. Masters of Seven Centuries. Paintings and Drawings from the 14th through 20th Century, 1962, no. 39, illustrated in the catalogue

Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario & Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, Vincent Van Gogh and the Birth of Cloissonnism, 1981, no. 64, illustrated in the catalogue

Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art & Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Gallery, Paul Gauguin, 1987, no. 39, illustrated in the catalogue

Tokyo, National Art Center, Kyushu, Kyushu National Museum, Van Gogh, The Adventure of Becoming an Artist, 2010, no. 100, illustrated in the catalogue


Vittorio Pica, Gli Impressionisti Francesi, Bergamo, 1908, p. 212

L’Art et les Artistes, November 1925, no. 61, p. 42

Raymond Cogniat, Paul Gauguin, Paris, n.d., no. 122

John Rewald, Gauguin, Paris, 1938, illustrated in color pl. 89

Basil Burgett, "Cézanne to Dalí: important exhibition of modern European art now in Australia," Australia National Journal, no. 2, Spring 1939, illustrated p. 35

Maurice Malingue, Paul Gauguin, Monaco, 1943, illustrated in color

Bruno Schneider, Paul Rosenberg Collection, New York, n.d., illustrated in color

Maurice Malingue, Gauguin le peintre et son oeuvre, Paris 1948, illustrated in color

Lee Van Dovski, Gauguin, 1950, no. 164, p. 344

Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin, I. Catalogue,  Paris, 1964, no. 367, illustrated p. 140

Lee van Dovski, Die Wahrheit über Gauguin, Darmstadt, no. 164, 1973, p. 263

John Rewald, "Theo van Gogh, Goupil and the Impressionists," in Gazette des Beaux Arts, Paris, January & February 1973, vol. 81, p. 49

David Piper, Paul Gauguin, New York, 1980, illustrated pl. 358

Susan Barnes Robinson, The French Impressionists in Southern California, Los Angeles, 1984, p. 43

"Acquisitions/1983" in J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 12, 1983, no. 18, illustrated p. 315

Burton B. Fredericksen, Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1988, no. 45, illustrated in color

Eileen Chanin & Steven Miller, Degenerates and Perverts, The 1939 Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2005, no. 43, illustrated in color on the frontispiece

Barbara Schaefer, 1912, Mission Moderne, Die Jahrhundertschau des Sonderbundes, 2012, no. 159, illustrated in color p. 558


Excellent condition over all. The canvas has a glue lining. Under UV, there is no evidence of retouching.
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 important depiction of the Breton countryside is one of the pictures that Gauguin completed in 1889, when he was working in Pont Aven.  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 romanticizing of the natural world in this picture 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, when he painted the present work in 1889, the seeds of Gauguin's tropical aesthetic had begun to germinate.

The subject of the goose was one that was loaded with significance for Gauguin.  It appeared in the mural that he created at Marie Henry’s inn, and it also figured in several of his compositions of peasant life at this time.  While farmyard animals appear in several of his pictures from the mid-1880s to enhance the image of peasant life, the goose was more of a metaphorical representation of the sensual complexity of the female character:  “Within woman-bird couples, which abound, one can easily distinguish three principal groups:  The Romantic woman, first of all, the ideal or divine woman; then the charming warbler, the turtledove; from the screech-owl to the magpie, from the hay to the crow, one has no lack of choices to designate the most repulsive, abrasive woman.  Between heaven and hell we still find the terrestrial but savory or at least tasty companions, the chicken and the pullet, the hen, the quail, the partridge, and others still, but above all the goose that for Gauguin, probably entertained by its aggressive character and seduced by its graphic silhouette, plump and sensual, seems to be a summation of all these various fowl” (Victor Merlhès,  “Labor.  Painters at Play in Le Pouldu,” Gauguin’s Nirvana, Painters at Le Pouldu, 1889-90, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 2001, p. 94).

Gauguin expressed perfectly the new direction his art was taking in a letter to Schuffenecker: “One bit of advice, don’t copy nature too much. Art is an abstraction; derive this abstraction from nature while dreaming before it, but think more of creating than the actual result - My latest works are well under way and I believe you will find in them a special note or rather affirmation of my previous research, the synthesis of form and color derived from the observation of the dominant element only.” (P. Gaugin in a letter to E. Schuffenecker, Pont Aven, August 14, 1888)

The present painting once belonged to the French painter and collector Gustave Fayet (1865-1925).  It was later acquired by the dealer Paul Rosenberg, who sent it to Australia for a landmark selling exhibition in 1939, where it remained throughout the Second World War.  That exhibition, which was organized by the Melbourne Herald, is now regarded as a major missed-opportunity for the Australian continent to have acquired world-class examples of Impressionist and Modern Art, as many of the pictures on loan failed to sell.  It was not until after the war, when Rosenberg had the picture at his new gallery in New York, did he sell it to the Texan oil heiress Sarah Blaffer.   For about forty years the picture remained in the Blaffer family collection until it was sold through William Beadleston to the John Paul Getty Museum in California, where it remained until 1989.