Lot 24
  • 24

Paul Gauguin

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 GBP
2,389,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Paul Gauguin
  • Nature morte aux mangos et à la fleur d'hibiscus
  • signed P. Gauguin and dated 87 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 32.5 by 47cm.
  • 12 3/4 by 18 1/2 in.


Dr Fritz Rosenfeldt, Stuttgart

Galerie Thannhauser, Berlin (acquired by circa 1928)

Thannhauser Gallery, New York (acquired from the above; probably until after 1945)

Sale: Galerie Fischer, Lucerne, 5th June 1948, lot 2303

Galerie Art Point (sold: Sotheby's, London, 27th June 1989, lot 16)

Private Collection, Japan (purchased at the above sale)

James Francis Trezza, New York (acquired from the above in 2004)

Private Collection, United States (acquired from the above in December 2004)

Private Collection (acquired in 2009)


Basel, Kunsthalle, Gauguin, 1928, no. 29 or 33

Berlin, Galerie Thannhauser, Paul Gauguin, 1928, no. 19

Fort Worth, Kimbell Art Museum, Gauguin and Impressionism, 2005-06, no. 77, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Paul Gauguin, Artist of Myth and Dream, 2007-08, no. 27, illustrated in colour in the catalogue (with incorrect measurements)


Lee Van Dovski, Paul Gauguin oder die Flucht vor der Zivilisation, Zurich, 1950, no. 105, listed p. 342 (titled Nature morte aux fleurs et aux fruits)

Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin, Paris, 1964, no. 238, illustrated p. 87 (titled Fruits exotiques et fleurs rouges)

Gabriele Mandel Sugana, L'Opera completa di Gauguin, Milan, 1972, no. 56, illustrated p. 90 (image reversed)

Roger Cucchi, Gauguin à la Martinique, Vaduz, 1979, no. 238, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Fruits exotiques et fleurs rouges)

Daniel Wildenstein, Gauguin: Premier itinéraire d'un sauvage. Catalogue de l'œuvre peint (1873-1888), Paris, 2001, vol. II, no. 256, illustrated in colour p. 348

Catalogue Note

Gauguin's still-lifes evoke the sensuous beauty and visual splendour of the tropics. The artist painted this expertly modelled composition of exotic fruits and flora around the time of his trip to the Caribbean island of Martinique, where he stayed from June until November 1887. Although it has commonly been thought that he painted Nature morte aux mangos et à la fleur d'hibiscus while on that island, recent scholarship suggests that it was completed after the artist had already returned to Paris. When he returned to this urban European setting after several months in Martinique, Gauguin fantasised about his experiences abroad and yearned to set out again for another exotic location. Not surprisingly, some of his most striking compositions from this contemplative period at the end of 1887 are his still-lifes. In these pictures Gauguin focused on the brightly coloured orbs of succulent tropical fruit arranged loosely next to objects from his studio. The daring perspective of these pictures calls to mind the compositional procedures of Cézanne (fig. 2), whose still-lifes Gauguin would have seen at the last group exhibition of Impressionist paintings the previous year. But most of all, Gauguin's desire to paint these still-lifes had deeply personal underpinnings. The exotic fruits, readily available in the Paris marketplaces, were a tangible reminder of Gauguin's tropical paradise and the nearest examples of the colours, smells and tastes of his experiences abroad.


Discussing Nature morte aux mangos et à la fleur d'hibiscus in the catalogue of the recent exhibition, Gauguin and Impressionism, Richard R. Brettell wrote: ‘Gauguin returned to Paris from Martinique in mid-November 1887, moving immediately into the delightful pavilion of the Schuffenecker family in the 14th arrondissement. There he began a group of still-life paintings that culminated in a canvas of 1887-88 in the Musée d'Orsay, Still life with fan. Given that it would hardly have been difficult for him to buy tropical fruit or to find hothouse hibiscus in Paris during the 1880s, it seems most likely that he in fact painted the present work at the Schuffeneckers in dreary December 1887 - recovering from his tropical illnesses and dreaming of the warmth of another place’ (R. R. Brettell, Gauguin and Impressionism (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 239).


Nature morte aux mangos et à la fleur d'hibiscus is a spatially dynamic composition which forecasts the bold direction that Gauguin's art was to take in the years to come. Completed just as the official Impressionist movement was coming to a close, this wonderfully modern picture demonstrates how advanced in his approach Gauguin really was at the end of 1887. Unlike his Impressionist colleagues, who focused on the airy effects of light and shadow in their still-lifes, Gauguin's concern rests with the geometry of the fruit and radical spatial perspective.  His framing of the composition appears to be haphazard - the petals of the red hibiscus at the top are abruptly cropped, and the ensemble is confined by what looks to be either a shadow or the edge of the table. He has devoted his attention almost exclusively to the upper half of the composition, leaving the bottom devoid of objects. Most striking, though, is his palette. He paints with brisk strokes of sharp red and orange, deep green and an unapologetically bold black, which were rare colour choices in the still-lifes of this era. Gauguin was clearly blazing his own artistic trail with this picture and forging a new, Post-Impressionist aesthetic. Indeed, it would be these very pictures of 1887-88 that Gauguin would have in mind when he created his colourful still-lifes in Tahiti several years later (fig. 3).