Overview

Self–portraiture constituted a significant element of Gauguin's production, particularly in 1888 and 1889. Gauguin's interest was prompted in part by Vincent van Gogh's 1888 portrait series including La Mousmé, which Gauguin knew from his correspondence with Van Gogh and his brother Theo. In addition, Van Gogh hoped to establish an artists' colony in the south that could be analogous to Gauguin's circle in Brittany and proposed an exchange of self–portraits. Gauguin's only known statements about his self–portraiture concern a work similar to the National Gallery’s Self–Portrait and thus have relevance. Gauguin refers to "the face of an outlaw . . . with an inner nobility and gentleness," a face that is "symbol of the contemporary impressionist painter" and "a portrait of all wretched victims of society."

This Self–Portrait, painted on a cupboard door from the dining room of an inn in the Breton hamlet Le Pouldu, is one of Gauguin's most important and radical paintings. His haloed head and disembodied right hand, a snake inserted between the fingers, float on amorphous zones of yellow and red. Elements of caricature add an ironic and aggressively ambivalent inflection to this painted assertion of Gauguin's artistic superiority and make him the sardonic hero of his new aesthetic system.

Inscription

lower left: 1889. / P Go

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Consigned by the artist to Mme Marie Henry [1859-1945], Le Pouldu, in lieu of rent; sold 1919 through François Norgelet to (Galerie Barbazanges, Paris); (Hodebert, Paris).[1] Possibly Mrs. R.A. Workman, London.[2] Lord Ivor Charles Spencer Churchill [1898-1956] London; sold 1923 to (Alex Reid and Lefèvre, Ltd., Glasgow and London) sold 1925 to (Kraushaar Galleries, New York);[3] sold 6 September 1928 to Chester Dale [1883-1962], New York;[4] gift 1963 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1919
Paul Gauguin Exposition d'Oeuvres inconnues, Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, 1919, no. 1, repro.
1923
Exposition Rétrospective de P. Gauguin, Galerie L. Dru, Paris, no. 11
1923
Post Impressionism, Lefevre Gallery, London, October/November 1923, no. 24.
1928
Exhibition of Modern French Paintings, Water Colors and Drawings, C.W. Kraushaar Art Galleries, New York, no. 7
1928
Loan Exhibition of Modern French Art from the Chester Dale Collection for the Benefit of the French Hospital of New York, Wildenstein Galleries, 1928, no. 10
1929
French Art Since Eighteen Hundred, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 1929, unnumbered checklist published in Museum Bulletin, no. 9 (November 1929), repro.
1937
Exhibition of French Painting, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1937, no cat.
1938
Great Portraits from Impressionism to Modernism, Wildenstein & Co., New York, 1938, no. 15
1939
Seven Centuries of Painting, California Palace of the Legion of Honor and The M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, 1939-1940, no. Y-120
1965
The Chester Dale Bequest, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1965, unnumbered checklist.
1980
Post-Impressionism: Cross-Currents in European and American Painting 1880-1906, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980, no. 50, repro.
1988
The Art of Paul Gauguin, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Art Institute of Chicago; Grand Palais, Paris, 1988-1989, no. 92, repro. (shown only in Washington).
2000
Art Nouveau, 1890-1914, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 2000-2001, no. 121 (shown only in Washington).
2010
From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, January 2010-January 2012, unnumbered catalogue, repro. (through February 2011 only).
2010
Gauguin: Maker of Myth, Tate, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2010-2011, no. 11, repro. (shown only in Washington).

Bibliography

1921
Chassé, Charles. Gauguin et le groupe de Pont-Aven, Paris, 1921:48
1925
Cann, Louise Gebhard. "Gauguin's Image of Himself," International Studio 81 (May 1925): 120
1929
Barth, Wilhelm. Paul Gauguin. Basel, 1929, repro. opposite p. 163.
1929
Dale, Maud. Before Manet to Modigliani from the Chester Dale Collection. New York, 1929: no. 61, repro.
1929
Dale, Maud. "French Art in the Chester Dale Collection." Art News (27 April 1929): 46-47, repro.
1936
Bulliet, C. J. The Significant Moderns and Their Pictures. New York, 1936: fig. 69.
1938
Rewald, John. Gauguin. Paris, 1938: repro.
1942
_French Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 74, repro.
1942
Hook, Katrina can. "A Self-Portrait by Paul Gauguin from the Chester Dale Collection," Gazette des Beaux-Arts series VI, XXII (October-December 1942): 183+, repro.
1942
Sater, Katherine. "Great Paintings Shown At National Gallery." The Columbus (Ohio) Citizen (13 December 1941): 4, repro.
1944
_French Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1944: 74, repro.
1944
Jewell, Edward Alden. French Impressionists and their Contemporaries Represented in American Collections. New York, 1944: repro. 160.
1949
Leymarie, Jean. Gauguin: Exposition du centenaire. Exh. cat., Musées nationaux, Paris, 1949: 33, under no. 23
1950
Lewandowski, Herbert. Paul Gauguin, oder, Die Flucht vor der Zivilisation. Bern, 1950: 344.
1953
_French Paintings from the Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1953: 82, repro.
1954
Tietze, Hans. Treasures of the Great National Galleries. New York, 1954: 123, pl. 219.
1957
Däubler, Theodor. "Gauguin." Das Kunstwerk 11, no. 5-6 (Nov-Dec 1957): 10, repro.
1961
Rewald, John. Le Post-Impressionnsme de van Gogh à Gauguin. Rev. ed. Paris, 1961: 178
1962
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Treasures from the National Gallery of Art, New York, 1962: 168, color repro.
1963
Boudaille, Georges. Gauguin. Paris, 1963: repro. p.92.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 327, repro.
1964
Wildenstein, Georges. Gauguin. Paris, 1964: no. 323.
1965
_Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Paintings & Sculpture of the French School in the Chester Dale Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 123, repro.
1965
_Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 56
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:470, color repro.
1967
Blanton, Catherine W. "Notes on a Portrait by Gauguin in the Chester Dale Collection." Sudies in the History of Art 1 (1967-68): 89-98, fig. 8.
1968
Buser, Rev. Thomas. "Gauguin's Religion." Art Journal 27 no. 4 (Summer 1968): 375-377, fig. 1.
1968
_European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 48, repro.
1968
Sérullaz, Maurice. Peintres maudits. Paris, 1968: 68, repro.
1971
Anderson, Wayne. Gauguin's Paradise Lost. New York, 1971: 11-12, fig. 8.
1971
Clay, Jean, ed. L'impressionnisme. Paris, 1971: 170, repro.
1975
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 146, repro.
1975
Jirat-Wasiutynski, Vojtech. Paul Gauguin in the Context of Symbolism. New York, 1975: 332-337.
1979
Goldwater, Robert. Symbolism. New York, 1985: 81-82, repro.
1979
Watson, Ross. The National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1979: 119, pl. 105.
1980
Kelder, Diane. The Great Book of French Impressionism. New York, 1980: 435, repro.
1981
Sugana, Gabriele Mandel. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Gauguin. Paris, 1981: no. 199, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 524, no. 789, color repro.
1985
_European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 169, repro.
1985
_Le chemin de Gauguin: genèse et rayonnement. Exh. cat. Musée départemental du Prieuré, 1985: 118, repro.
1987
Jirat-Wasiutynski, Vojtech. "Paul Gauguin's 'Self-Portrait with Halo and Snake': The Artist as Initiate and Magus." Art Journal 46 no. 1 (Spring 1987): 22-28, repro.
1987
Malingue, Maurice. La vie prodigieuse de Gauguin. Paris, 1987: 144+
1989
Hofstätter, Hans H. "Christliche Thematik im Werk von Paul Gauguin," Das Münster: Zeitschrift für Christliche Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft 42 no. 4 (1989): 301-302, repro.
1991
Coman, Florence E. Joie de Vivre: French Paintings from the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1991: no. 15, repro.
1991
Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 243, color repro.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 200, repro.
1993
Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art and Psychoanalysis. New York, 1993: 140-141, fig. 53
1993
Braun, Barbara. Post-Columbian World: Ancient American Sources of Modern Art. New York, 1993: 79, repro.
1993
Harrison. Charles, Francis Frascina and Gill Perry. Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction: The Early Twentieth Century. New Haven, 1993: 19, repro.
1993
Kapas, Martha, ed. The Post-Impressionists: A Retrospective. New York, 1993: 152, repro.
1993
Thomson, Belinda, ed. Gauguin by Himself. New York, 1993: no. 107, repro.
1994
Varnedoe, Kirk, and David Rockefeller. Masterpieces from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Manet to Picasso. Exh. cat. Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1994: 81, fig. 2.
1996
Richard, Paul. "Gauguin's Fantasy Island: A 'Primitive Sculpture That's Anything But,' Washington Post (Friday, November 29, 1996): C1, C2, repro.
1997
Kelder, Diane. The Great Book of French Impressionism, 1997: no. 333, repro.
1997
Zemel, Carol. Van Gogh's Progress: Utopia, Modernity, and Late-Nineteenth-Century Art. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1997: 165-167, fig. 98.
1998
Boeckl, Christine M. "Self-Portraits: Men" in Helene E. Roberts, ed., Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 802, 804.
1999
Wood, Paul (editor). The Challenge of the Avant-Garde. New Haven, 1999: 172-173, repro.
2000
_Art Nouveau, 1890-1914. Exh. cat. Victoria & Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 2000-2001: no. 121.
2000
Jirat-Wasiutynski, Vojtech. Technique and Meaning in the Paintings of Paul Gauguin. Cambridge, 2000: 174-175, repro.
2000
Lobstein, Dominique. "Die Ausstellung Paul Gauguin in der Galerie Barbazanges im Jahre 1919." in Paul Gauguin: Von der Bretagne nach Tahiti. Ein Aufbruch zur Moderne. Exh. cat., Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, 2000:119-128.
2000
_Paul Gauguin, von der Bretagne nach Tahiti: ein Abruch zur Moderne. Exh. cat. Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, 2000: 53, repro.
2001
Adriani, Götz, Henri Rousseau: Der Zöllner, Grenzgänger zur Moderne. Exh. cat. Kunsthalle Tübingen, 2001: 146, repro.
2001
_Gauguin's Nirvana: Painters at Le Pouldu 1889-1890. Exh. cat. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 2001: 30-31, 67, 68-70, 96-97, 105, 110, 119, 137, repro.
2001
Mathews, Nancy Mowll. Paul Gauguin--An Erotic Life. New Haven, 2001: 143-144, fig. 48.
2001
_Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South. Exh. cat. The Art Institute of Chicago; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 2001: 309, 312 repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 372-373, no. 305, color repro.
2011
Morrison, Ann. "Gauguin's Gambit." Smithsonian 41, no. 11 (March 2011): 62: color repro.
2013
Monneret, Jean. Catalogue raisonné du Salon des Indépendants 1884-2000: Les Indépendants dans l’histoire de l’art. Paris, 2000: 65, color repro.

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