Lot 2
  • 2

Paul Gauguin

600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Paul Gauguin
  • Ondine (III) and Étude pour Joies de Bretagne (A Double-Sided Drawing)
  • Signed with the monogram P Go and inscribed au Docteur Paulin (lower right)
  • Gouache and watercolor heightened with pastel on paper
  • Fan Size: 4 3/4 by 15 in. 12 by 38 cm.
  • Sheet Size: 9 by 16 1/8 in. 22.8 by 41 cm


Dr. Paulin, Paris (Acquired from the artist) 

Hugo Perls, New York (acquired before 1960 and sold by the Estate: Sotheby's, New York, May 19, 1983, lot 212)

Acquired at the above sale 


Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent oeuvres de Gauguin, 1960, no. 44

Munich, Haus der Kunst, Paul Gauguin, 1960, no. 81, illustrated in the catalogue

Vienna, Belvedere, Paul Gauguin, 1960, no. 11, illustrated in the catalogue

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago & Paris, Grand Palais, The Art of Paul Gauguin, 1988-89, no. 83, illustrated in color in the catalogue


René Huyghe, Le Carnet de Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1952

Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin, Paris, 1964, vol. I, no. 338, illustrated p. 130

Eric M. Zafran, ed. Gauguin's Nirvana, Painters at Le Pouldu 1889-90 (exhibition catalogue), Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, 2001, illustrated in color p. 25

Catalogue Note

Ondine (III) is a Symbolist mixed media composition from a critical period in Gauguin’s oeuvre, just before his first trip to Tahiti. After a personally explosive yet prolific stay with Van Gogh in Arles at the end of 1888, Gauguin looked forward to returning to Pont-Aven where he had sojourned on several previous occasions. Arriving in June of 1889, however, Gauguin found the town too full – both with holiday seekers and other artists. He set off for Le Pouldu, a small hamlet more than forty kilometers down the cost from the bustle of Pont-Aven. In this small village he found houses scattered among the dunes and a small inn run by Marie Henry. Here he focused on rocks and water, on young girls herding cows and on the farmyards of the town’s scattered buildings. Gauguin was attracted to what he saw as an “untouched” way of life, the regional dress and festivities which he had explored on earlier visits to Pont-Aven, reinforced by the ancient origins of the town, settled before the Romans occupied modern-day France. Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharvo, writing about this sojourn in Le Pouldu, discusses the iconography behind his Ondine works, both in the large canvas now in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art and in the present work stating: “The nude facing the waves as symbol of female joy rather than pain, of life rather than death, complemented Gaugin’s fascination with the dualities of life and death or the material and spiritual, themes which preoccupied his symbolist painting and sculpture in Le Pouldu” (in E. Zafran, ed., op. cit., p. 26).

Gauguin’s treatment of the waves in these compositions is heavily influenced by the Japanese prints which had so captured the minds of the late 19th century artists of Europe. Claire Frèches-Thory states: “The wave is strictly Japanese, as in Gauguin’s other seascapes of the period…. The juxtaposition of nude and of nature decoratively handled is a foretaste of the great Tahiti figures… but the arrangement, the simplicity, and the sheer power of the imagery have a flavor that is new to Gauguin’s art. It is this special flavor that raises Gauguin’s Breton nude, whatever her origin, to a level of mythical ingenuity and innocent wildness that was exactly the artist’s intention” (The Art of Paul Gauguin, op. cit. p. 147). Ondine (III) was a gift from the artist to Dr. Paulin, as attested in the inscription at lower right as well as in the artist’s sketchbook. A Paris-based dentist, Paulin also had fan-shaped works by other artists in his collection including those by Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro.