Art criticism analysis and description of the painting by Paul Gauguin “Queen. (The wife of the king) “
The picture can be called one of the best works of the late work of Gauguin. The canvas was painted during the artist’s second visit to Tahiti (from 1895 until his death in 1903). It was Gauguin’s futile attempt at dusk to hide from European civilization, as close as possible to the wild pristine nature of Polynesia, whose inhabitants “know only the joyful side of life”, a wonderful world where you can live “almost without money”. However, during the second trip, the artist was already completely disappointed in life: the sultry sun of the tropics only exacerbated eczema, and countless erratic connections led to an incurable disease. In the absence of a stable source of income – the paintings that Gauguin paid for often went to bedding for cats and dogs – even in a hut under palm trees on the shore of the southern sea, the artist felt abandoned and insanely lonely. Paradoxically, it was precisely in his desperate and miserable years, in the increasingly Europeanized Tahiti, that he created the largest and most euphoric paintings of paradise.
At the end of work on the canvas, the master wrote to a friend Daniel de Monfreyd: “I just finished the picture – one meter thirty centimeters per meter, which I think is much more successful than the previous one: the naked queen is lying on the green carpet, the maid picks the fruits, two old men argue by the big tree about the tree of knowledge; deep in the seashore … Trees are in bloom, the dog is guarding, two pigeons coo on the right. ”
The canvas is quite large, which, in combination with a rectangular format, can, upon first examination, mislead the viewer, and he will see the narrative in it. This is not so, the master was not interested in a specific plot, but in the symbolism of everything that was happening. The artist with all his peculiar originality painted the Old Testament scene, and not the real Tahitian life. To convey the biblical story, he borrowed artistic techniques, referring to the art of Egypt, India, Iran, Cambodia and carefully studying Tahitian folklore. The artist missed the biblical story through the prism of his own perception.
In the center is a beautiful Tahitian woman. The pose taken by the naked queen reminds us of “Sleeping Venus” by George and Goya’s “Naked Mach”, as well as the infamous “Olympia” Manet. She is “naked, but regally dressed.” Unlike the heroine of Renoir, the Tahitian Eve is absolutely natural in her nakedness, her beautiful young body without the false shame inherent in civilization is open to the viewer.
Unlike Anna with the Renoir etude, which hides its nudity and directly turns expressive slightly sad eyes to the viewer, the king’s wife does not look at us – her alienated gaze is directed somewhere to the side, which moves the viewer away from the inaccessible queen and the mysterious world Gauguin. But the forbidden fruit is sweet, and the greater the distance between the real world and the earthly paradise embodied by the master, the more attractive the Polynesian Eden becomes. The viewer cannot enter this world. The beauty of the queen is perfect in its savagery and integrity. In these lines, the image of the black beauty Gauguin is revealed in the best possible way: “… This Tahitian Eve is very gentle, very wise in her naivety. The mystery hidden in the depths of her children’s eyes is incomprehensible to me … This is Eve after the fall, she can still walk shamelessly naked, she has not lost her animal beauty of the first day of creation … This is Eve, and her body is still the body of an animal. But the head has already evolved, thought has developed a subtlety of feelings, love has left an ironic smile on her lips, and even if it is naive, she seeks in her memory the reasons for the past and the present. She is looking at you, and she has a mystery in her eyes. ”
What connected the master himself with the queen created and sung by him? If you are guided by the fact that the picture belongs to the late stage of Gauguin’s work (the artist’s second visit to Tahiti), then most likely this is his second Tahitian wife Paola (Gauguin believed that the best portrait of a naked woman was painted from her). However, starting from the description of appearance from Noah Noah, one might think that this is the first Polynesian wife – Tehura … “A young woman with regular features, straight black hair, a slender body, small breasts and long well developed legs, figured almost in all of his Tahitian paintings, this is undoubtedly Tehura. ” The proportions of the figure of a dark-skinned beauty do not quote ancient goddesses. The Tahitian’s sturdy physique is far from the European “false ideal of fragility”. If the model Renoir reminds the viewer a porcelain figurine, then the queen’s radiant tanned skin makes her look like a bronze statue. It is noteworthy that all the characters on the canvas have a different skin color. The shining bronze tan of the queen contrasts with the grayish-blue silhouettes of the handmaids resembling Indian deities in color, and the slightly stooped figures of old men talking, looking like wooden idols.
The queen pictured fits very naturally into the natural landscape.