Cover image for Letters to his wife and friends
Letters to his wife and friends
Gauguin, Paul, 1848-1903.
Personal Author:
First ArtWorks edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : MFA Publications, 2003.

Physical Description:
xix 255 pages, 14 unnumbered leaves of plates : illustrations, portrait ; 21 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND553.G27 A18 1946 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



May the day come--and perhaps soon--when I can flee to the woods on a South Sea island and live there in ecstasy, in peace and for art, Gauguin wrote to his wife, Mette, in 1890. As both art history and enduring legend have shown, Gauguin's life in the South Seas was anything but ecstatic or peaceful, even as he created some of the most revolutionary and iconic objects of his time. This book, to date the most comprehensive volume of the painter's letters to be published, offers an uncensored glimpse into Gauguin's life, from his days as a young newlywed reporting on the birth of his first child, through his early developments as an artist and finally throughout the extraordinary adventure of his years in Tahiti and the Marquesas. Gauguin's writings, from "Noa Noa" to his "Intimate Journals," have proven him a talented, uninhibited literary stylist. Nowhere is this more evident than in these letters to many of his closest associates and, above all, to Mette, for whom he detailed his plans, described artworks in progress, and gave running accounts of his life and states of mind on distant shores. Published to coincide with the centennial of Gauguin's death and with a major international exhibition, "Letters to His Wife and Friends" restores to print, after many years, one of the most compelling, intimate and revealing epistolary autobiographies ever assembled.

Author Notes

Paul Gauguin, together with Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne, was one of the great masters of postimpressionism. His life story, prototypical of the artist-rebel, was the subject of films and novels, such as The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham.

Born in Paris, Gauguin spent his youth with his mother's family in Peru and went to sea as a 16-year-old. He then became a stockbroker in Paris, painting only in his spare time. His early paintings were in the impressionist style. In 1883 he broke with his bourgeois life and eventually separated from his family. In 1888 he visited Van Gogh in Arles---with disastrous results. In 1891 he went to Tahiti. Apart from a short return to Paris, he spent the rest of his life in the South Sea Islands, suffering from poverty, poor health, and recurring struggles with the colonial authorities.

In his art, Gauguin sought to return to nature and truth. Inspired by the islanders, among whom he was living, he covered his canvases with stark forms, rhythmic patterns, and strong color, going far beyond naturalistic representation. Through this, his influence on modern art was powerful. His book Noa Noa (1894--1900) is a moving account of his thoughts and life.

(Bowker Author Biography)