Two Tahitian Women, 1899
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)
Oil on canvas; 37 x 28 1/2 in. (94 x 72.4 cm)
Signed and dated (lower left): 99 / PGauguin
Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.1)
Before Gauguin brought his work in Tahiti to a close, he shifted from his symbolist pictorial agenda in order to focus on the beauty and serene virtues of the native women. In this painting, he depended on sculpturally modeled forms, gesture, and facial expression to vivify the sentiments he had used to describe the "Tahitian Eve": "very subtle, very knowing in her naïveté" and at the same time "still capable of walking around naked without shame." These two figures first appear in the artist's monumental frieze Faa Iheihe (Tahitian Pastoral) of 1898 (Tate, London) and again in the even larger Rupe, Rupe of 1899 (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), which he composed for the upcoming Exposition Universelle of 1900.