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Paul Gauguin
Fan design: Garden under Snow
Watercolour and bodycolour over black chalk on fine linen
Given by Professor Ronald Pickvance (Christ's 1950) in memory of his wife Gina (1932-1997), 2001

Like many of the Impressionist painters - Degas, Pissarro and Cassatt, in particular - Gauguin was intrigued by the compositional challenge of the idiosyncratic fan-shaped format. Between 1884 and 1902, he painted more than thirty designs, mostly based on motifs that he had accumulated during his extensive travels in France, Martinique and Tahiti. His earliest compositions - generally painted in bodycolour and watercolour on silk, or, as here, fine linen - were loosely derived from paintings or etchings by Cézanne and Pissarro that he owned. Thereafter, he adapted compositional elements from his own oil paintings, often combining motifs culled from several different works with varying degrees of fidelity to the original.

In this case, Gauguin has used elements from two earlier works: the bare trees and buildings from those in an unpeopled landscape of c.1879 (Ny Carlsberg Glyptothek, Copenhagen), and the two young women on the left, from a snowscene of 1883 (collection Neil A. McConnell). In 1885, Gauguin reworked these in a large-scale oil painting of the same subject, now in a private collection, which had previously belonged to his brother-in-law, the Danish author Edvard Brandes (1847-1931), who was also the first owner of this fan. The donor, Professor Pickvance, is a distinguished scholar of French painting and drawing.


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