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Noa Noa (Fragrant)
woodcut on paper
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection

This print is from a series of 10 woodcuts Gauguin produced on returning to Paris after his first Tahitian trip. They were meant to accompany a text he had begun in Tahiti titled Noa Noa, or "Fragrant," a free-form journal based on his memory, readings, and rich imagination. The prints explore many of the same themes Gauguin addressed in his paintings, with motifs appearing and reappearing as echoes of his obsessions. The prints were never joined with the text and the intended sequence, if there is one, remains unclear.

Although it was his first time working with the medium, Gauguin carved the blocks with great assurance. Initially all prints were made in black and white, but he later collaborated with artist Louis Roy to produce a colored set of the prints, as seen here.

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