Immediately upon his arrival in the Tahitian capital of Papeete, Gauguin was confronted with the reality of a culture dramatically changed by colonialism. His paintings and writings expressed his sense of loss for the mythical paradise that he did not find. The ancient culture that he had dreamed of had been, by his account, hopelessly diluted, corrupted and erased by Christian missionaries and Western colonization. "The Tahitian soil," he wrote, "is becoming completely French and little by little the old order will disappear."
Gauguin saw the loss of paradise as emblematic of humanity's fall from grace. The figure of Eve and universal sin were recurring themes that the artist explored first in Brittany and later in Polynesia where he depicted the story of Eve in a tropical setting.