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The Cover
April 25, 2007

Young Christian Girl

Author Affiliations
 

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(16):1749. doi:10.1001/jama.297.16.1749

A one-time prosperous amateur painter turned penniless professional, Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) pursued his art, in particular its color, like Percival pursued The Grail. He traveled the world and criss-crossed oceans: from Paris, where he was born, to Peru, where he was raised, to Orléans to live with his widowed mother; to Rio de Janeiro and Le Havre as a teenaged merchant seaman; to Copenhagen, where he was married; to Paris as a stockbroker and eventual father of five children; to Pont-Aven and Panama, where he turned professional; to Martinique, Arles, and Madagascar in search of new motifs; and finally, back to Tahiti. Young Christian Girl (cover ) was painted in 1894, the year after his return from his first trip to Tahiti. Depicting the Brittany countryside, probably in the autumn, it represents Gauguin at age 46. He did few other paintings that year. He was occupied with arranging an exhibition of his Tahitian works and developing the exotic persona he believed would enhance his reputation and sales of his work. His pugnacious temperament, which on at least one occasion sent him to the hospital, also sapped much of his time and energy. On the other hand, his work took on new brilliance. The yellows especially seemed to take on new life, illuminating his canvasses with hues that ranged from deep citron to saffron to sunflower to burnished gold.

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