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Paul Gauguin
The Loss of Virginity
Oil on canvas

35.25 x 51.25 inches

Chrysler Museum of Art

Excerpt from The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA:

Paul Gauguin
The Loss of Virginity, 1890-91

Compared with the traditional and often sentimental subjects reserved for images of women in late-19th-century French art, the theme of Gauguin’s painting — the loss of sexual innocence — must have seemed shocking. The painting’s blunt, schematic style — the broad, flat bands of bright color bounded by dark outlines — must have seemed equally radical, reflecting the artist’s interest in the avant-garde aesthetic known as Synthetism.  Following the dictates of Synthetism, Gauguin rejected realistic representation for a more purely Symbolist approach to form, using the colors, shapes, and objects of the visible world as subjective allusions to ideas and moods.

The woman who modeled for The Loss of Virginity — a young seamstress named Juliette Huet — was Gauguin’s mistress at the time. The artist met Huet in Paris in 1890, and though she was pregnant with his daughter, he abandoned her when he departed the following year for Tahiti.

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Additional Information:

Paul Gauguin: Selected Biographies on Art in Context

Paul Gauguin: Related Links on Art in Context


Paul Gauguin, French, (1848-1903)
b. June 7, 1848, Paris
d. 1903

Art in Context - Projects:
Art in Context - Art for the Day: June 7

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