Lot 23
  • 23

Paul Gauguin

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Paul Gauguin
  • Bouquets et céramique sur une commode
  • Signed P. Gauguin and dated 86 (lower left)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 23 5/8 by 28 3/4 in.
  • 60 by 73 cm


Pearson, Paris

Paul Cassirer, Berlin

Dr. Max Emden, Hamburg (sale: Ball & Graupe, Berlin, June 9, 1931, lot 39)

Fritz Nathan, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Paul Joerin, Basel

Galerie Dr. Raeber, Basel

Mrs. Florence Gould, New York (1964)

Wildenstein & Co., New York

Private Collection (acquired from the above in the 1980s and sold: Sotheby's, London, June 19, 2007, lot 19)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Basel, Kunstmuseum, Collections privées bâloises, 1943, no. 286

Basel, Kunstmuseum, Gauguin, 1949-50, no. 9

Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Gauguin: Exposition du centenaire, 1950, no. 30 (titled Nature morte aux asters)

Basel, Kunsthalle, Collections privées, 1957, no. 129

Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent oeuvres de Gauguin, 1960, no. 24bis (titled Nature morte au dahlia)

Caracas, Museo de Bellas Artes, Cincos siglos de art Frances, 1977, no. 59

Vienna, Albertina Museum, Impressionismus, Wie das Licht auf die Leinwand kam, 2009-2010, no. 263, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Maurice Malingue, Gauguin, le peintre et son oeuvre, London, 1948, illustrated p. 106 (titled Fleurs sur une commode)

Lee Van Dovski, Paul Gauguin oder die Flucht vor der Zivilisation, Bern, 1950, no. 84, listed p. 341 (titled Fleurs sur une commode)

Merete Bodelsen, Gauguin's Ceramics, London, 1964, fig. 74, illustrated p. 106 (titled Still-life)

Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin, Paris, 1964, no. 209, illustrated p. 77 (titled Asters sur une commode)

Daniel Wildenstein & Raymond Cogniat, Paul Gauguin, Milan, 1972, illustrated in color pp. 26-27

Christopher Gray, Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin, New York, 1980, mentioned p. 123

Victor Merlhès (ed.), Correspondance de Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1984, mentioned p. 444

Daniel Wildenstein, Gauguin. Premier itinéraire d'un sauvage. Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint (1873-1888), Paris, 2001, vol. II, no. 239, illustrated in color p. 309

Ulrich Luckhardt & Uwe M. Schneede (ed.), Private Schätze: über das Sammeln von Kunst in Hamburg bis 1933, Hamburg, 2001, illustrated p. 222

Richard R. Brettell & Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark, Gauguin and Impressionism (exhibition catalogue), Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 2005, fig. 256, illustrated in color p. 321; detail illustrated in color p. 297

Iris Schaefer, Caroline von Saint-Goerte & Katja Lewerentz, Impressionismus: Wie das Licht auf die Leinwand kam, Milan, 2009, no. 263, illustrated in color p. 258

Catalogue Note

Gauguin's lush Bouquets et céramique sur une commode evidences the sensual delights which were of central concern to the artist throughout his career.  Gauguin took joy in depicting the natural world and its raw, unspoilt beauty. Like Barbizon and Impressionist painters before him, he was attracted to pastoral themes and everyday motifs as an emblem of a pristine past, free from the complications of modern civilized life.   His uninhibited approach to these subjects resulted in dramatic experimentation with color and form. With its vibrant tones applied in quick diagonal brushstrokes, the present work reveals a style reminiscent of Van Gogh's painting.

Completed at the end of 1886, Bouquets et céramique sur une commode belongs to the period that Gauguin spent in Paris, on return from his first trip to Pont-Aven in Brittany. The artist went to Pont-Aven earlier that year, leaving the capital in his pursuit of unspoilt scenery and a simple way of life away from the metropolis. For Gauguin and a number of his contemporaries, the appeal of this part of France, virtually untouched by the effects of progress, was in the raw originality of its landscape and the traditional way of life of its inhabitants. This work epitomizes the artist's life-long search for the primitive and displays the vividness and the bright, warm palette that would reach its full blossom in his celebrated Tahitian landscapes several years later.

Several months before painting Bouquets et céramique sur une commode, Gauguin was introduced to the ceramicist Ernest Chaplet, who had trained at the Sèvres factory, and he soon started working on his ceramics with great vigor. Delighted with the challenge and creative possibilities offered by this new discipline, Gauguin executed a number of ceramics, and often placed them in his painted still-lives. The flowers of the present work, seemingly casually arranged in a vase and spilling out of a basket, are joined by a ceramic figurine to the far right. This unusually shaped pitcher depicting a female face and titled Femme au capuchin, is presumed to date from circa 1887. Its inclusion in this composition raises a question of the execution date of the painting. Although it is possible that it was mistakenly dated 86 by Gauguin at a later stage, Daniel Wildenstein argues that the painting was indeed executed in 1886, and the sculpture itself added later to the composition (D. Wildenstein, op. cit., pp. 308-309). 

"How can one adequately describe these strange, barbaric, savage ceramic pieces," Gauguin's contemporary Albert Aurier pondered, "into which the sublime potter has molded more soul than clay?" (A. Aurier, 'Néo-Traditionnistes: Paul Gauguin', in La Plume, September 1, 1891, quoted in The Art of Paul Gauguin (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1988, p. 57).  Claire Frèches-Thory discussed Gauguin's ceramics: "Having already tried his hand at sculpture with great success, Gauguin was to find in ceramics a perfect medium for expressing his love of raw materials and his decorative sense. Of an estimated one hundred ceramic objects by the artist, sixty or so remain; numerous others have disappeared, been lost, or irreparably damaged [...] Except for a few pieces thrown on the wheel and then decorated, Gauguin's ceramics were modeled by hand, allowing him to create "baroque" forms: pitchers, pots, and vases with one, two, or three openings, adorned with multiple rolled handles added on, decorated either with glazed or mat finish, sometimes inlaid with gold highlights, but most often in relief [...] Gauguin's ceramic technique was highly original, and he may be considered one of the great revivers of stoneware art at the end of the nineteenth century" (C. Frèches-Thory, 'The Ceramics', in ibid., pp. 57-58).