Gauguin Portraits at the National Gallery, London

The first-ever exhibition dedicated to the portraits of Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) will be staged at the National Gallery, London, from 7 October 2019 – 26 January 2020. Featuring over fifty works, the exhibition includes paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings many of which have rarely been seen together. These include works from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, U.S.A; and The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium among other prestigious institutions. 

Dr Gabriele Finaldi, Director of the National Gallery, says: “This is the first time that an exhibition focuses on portraits by Gauguin. Never a conventional portrait painter, his radical, highly personal vision led to the creation of a group of works that are striking, moving and at times disturbing. Through paintings, prints, sculptures and ceramics the exhibition explores how he defined his own persona in his self-portraits and how he fashioned the images of friends, lovers and associates.”

From sculptures in ceramics and wood to paintings and drawings, an extraordinary range of media for a National Gallery exhibition, visitors will see how Gauguin interpreted a specific sitter or model over time, and often in different guises. A group of self portraits in the exhibition, for example, will show how Gauguin created a range of personifications including his self-image as Jesus Christ. Together with his use of intense colour and his interest in non-Western subject matter, his approach had a far-reaching influence on artists throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

The exhibition is curated by Cornelia Homburg and Christopher Riopelle from an initial concept by Cornelia Homburg. Cornelia Homburg is the guest curator for the National Gallery of Canada, and Christopher Riopelle is the Neil Westreich Curator of Post 1800 Paintings at the National Gallery, London.

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Image: Self-Portrait with Portrait of Émile Bernard (Les misérables), Paul Gauguin, 1888