Looking for the answer to this week’s Art Abstracts? It is Paul Gauguin’s Suburb Under Snow (Winter Day)! In 2000, the University of Oklahoma received a gift of French Impressionism from the Weitzenhoffer family that provided 22 paintings and 11 works on paper, which included this painting by Paul Gauguin!
After taking up painting in the early 1870s, Gauguin became a pupil and close associate of Pissarro, who inspired Gauguin to adopt an Impressionist style with short brushstrokes and an emphasis on light and color. Gauguin began showing in the Impressionist exhibitions in 1879, and continued to exhibit with the artists until their last exhibition in 1886.
This painting depicts the native country of Gauguin’s wife. After the 1882 market crash, Gauguin lost his job as a stockbroker in Paris–causing his family great financial hardship. In 1884, he joined his wife and five children in Denmark where his in-laws lived. However, the Danes were not receptive to Gauguin’s painting, and he returned to Paris in 1885. Since this painting of Copenhagen is dated 1886, Gauguin probably painted it with the aid of studies made in the winter of the previous year.
Gauguin soon moved to a village in the northwest of France where he departed from his early Impressionist style. He reached his full maturity as an artist in 1888 with compositions characterized by bright colors arranged in flat shapes, usually outlined in black. That same year, Gauguin visited Vincent van Gogh in Arles, and the two shared a turbulent friendship. This 1888 self-portrait was dedicated to Van Gogh and is an example of Gauguin’s Post-Impressionist style.
Paul Gauguin (France, 1848-1903)
Suburb Under Snow (Winter Day), 1886
Oil on canvas, 28 ¼ x 22 inches
Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000