Paul Gauguin has spent his entire life searching for a place where his dream of paradise on earth would come true. And like many before him, he believed that fleeing to the end of the world could offer him freedom from all worries. How painfully he was mistaken can be seen in „Nevermore” painting.

A naked girl lies on the bed, we see her wide hips rising up against the backrest of the bed. She doesn’t look at us, her eyes run away somewhere outside the painting, away from us. In the background behind her there are two figures of women facing each other and busy talking. A black bird sat on the windowsill observing the inside of the room. To the left of it, the painter placed the inscription NEVERMORE, a clear reference to a poem by Edgar Alan Poe. In the „Raven”, these words are an answer to the subsequent questions of the grieving poet and herald irretrievable loss.

gauguin, tahiti, death
Paul Gauguin, Nevermore, 1897, Courtauld Institute of Art, London © wikipedia

In 1897 Gauguin lived in Tahiti, one of the islands in the Pacific Ocean. There he sought inspiration for his work, freedom from European convenances and a return to innocence. On the paintings made there he created his own vision of the local community and its culture, which he hoped to give him salvation. However, death had access to this Arcadia.

gauguin, tahiti
Paul Gauguin, Nativity, 1896, Neue Pinakothek, Munich © wikipedia

The young girl in the painting is Pahura, Gauguin’s second local „wife”. The painter had three of them in total, each not older than fourteen at the time of their marriage. A few months before this painting was painted, Pahura lost their mutual child. At about the same time, the artist received information from Europe that his beloved daughter Aline died of tuberculosis. The woman in the painting and the painter who created it seem to be depressed. She sinks into herself, cuts herself off from the world around her. He reaches for dark colours and literary references, from a world he has rejected. Death has found them in the paradise in which Gauguin has hidden himself from all misery.

Gauguin, daughter
Paul Gauguin, Interior with Aline, 1881, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust © wikipedia

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