Paul Gauguin, the son of a French journalist and Peruvian Creole from a wealthy family, spent his childhood in Peru, in the family of his mother. Bright outfits of the indigenous inhabitants of South America, the relaxedness of their behavior, unusual nature became the first impressions of the childhood of the future painter and partly shaped his inner world, giving a positive charge for life. After graduating from school and the Naval College in France, successfully creating a family, making a fortune and traveling around the world, Paul, nevertheless, felt a strong craving for exotic places - such as where he spent his childhood.
Gauguin called civilization and all its signs a disease. The first trip to Tahiti gave the man tired of life all that he lacked so much in the civilized world. Returning to France, he brought with him more than eighty paintings, but without success and recognition, he returned to Polynesia. Paul Gauguin became the first European artist to renounce realism in favor of primitivism and naive painting in order to become closer to nature.
The painting of the King’s wife was painted by Gauguin during his second trip to Tahiti and is one of the most significant works of the artist. This canvas is an open challenge to the European traditions of painting and, perhaps, even a peculiar mockery of these. The pose of the beautiful Tahitian woman exactly repeats the pose of Olympia from the painting of the same name by Manet and partly copies the Titian Venus of Urbinsk. However, Gauguin does not fix the viewer's attention on one particular myth, filling his plot with multiple signs and symbols.
In the background we can see the tree of knowledge (the tree of good and evil), which is a direct reference to the Old Testament, and conversing old men, barely visible in the shade of the trees. Tahitian Eve is preparing to taste the fruit, which will give her knowledge - bright red fruits lie at the girl's feet, a young maid picks fresh fruits from the branches. In the features of the woman from the portrait, Tehura is guessed, the wife of Gauguin - thus, portraying her as Eve, he sees himself as Adam.
The big red fan in the hand of the Tahitian woman speaks in favor of the version about the portrait of the artist’s wife - Paul already depicted Tehura with this fan, which, most likely, was her favorite accessory. The name of the painting is also significant - naming his wife the queen, the artist imagines himself a regal face, the king of painting, or the white king of Tahiti. In addition, the creator deliberately simplifies the forms as much as possible - in contrast to Olympia and Venus Urbinskaya with their detailed, thoroughly registered bodies, Gauguin paints her lover as a child would draw a naked woman.
The absence of any modesty, the triumph of the beauty of a naked body is a characteristic feature of the late portraits of Gauguin. Having left for Polynesia with a one-way ticket, he openly protested against all civilization and admired the naturalness and naivety of Aboriginal people who did not know a sense of shame. This behavior of local residents reminded the creator of the original biblical paradise - and he considered Tahiti a true paradise on Earth. Small details of the picture speak in favor of the Old Testament version. The trees are in bloom, the dog is guarding, two pigeons coo on the right - the author wrote about his creation. The king’s wife demonstrates the amazing unity of man with nature. Bright, rich colors evoke the feeling of tropical heat, the eternal equatorial summer. Gauguin shows the viewer a world that has not been touched by evil and over which civilization is not dominant.
Autumn Day Sokolniki