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University Archives

Lot 77

Paul Gauguin DS Re: Payment from Vollard Perhaps for his Masterpiece "And the Gold of Their Bodies" Dating from the Last Two Years Before His Death on the Marquesas Islands

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Paul Gauguin DS Re: Payment from Vollard Perhaps for his Masterpiece "And the Gold of Their Bodies" Dating from the Last Two Years Before His Death on the Marquesas Islands


Description:

Paul Gauguin DS Re: Payment from Vollard Perhaps for his Masterpiece "And the Gold of Their Bodies" Dating from the Last Two Years Before His Death on the Marquesas Islands

A document in French signed by Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) as "Paul Gauguin" at lower right. Undated, but circa September 1901 - May 1903, and written in Atuona, Hiva Oa, French Polynesia. The piece of blue-lined cream paper is inscribed in a secretarial hand and stamped "Société Commerciale de l'Océanie / Agence de Papeete" at upper right. Expected wear includes paper folds, wrinkles, and even toning. Scattered minor discoloration not really affecting the text. A few layers of paper loss found in the upper left corner have been repaired. Else very good to near fine. 8.25" x 4.375." Displayed below a high-quality photo reproduction of Gauguin's "And the Gold of Their Bodies" ("Et l'or de leurs corps") (1901) in a cream gilt-edged mat measuring 16.75" x 13.125" x .875." overall. Provenance: Ex-Noel Goldblatt (ca. 1926-2003) of the famous Goldblatt's Department Store, to a prominent Los Angeles, California collector. Ex-Sotheby's 1979 and hidden away for over 40 years.

This financial documents dates from the last two years of Paul Gauguin's life, when he lived in Atuona, the former capital of the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia. Gauguin had always wanted to see this group of volcanic islands located about 1,370 km northeast of Tahiti. He arrived at Atuona in August 1901 and lived there until his death at the age of 54 some 19 months later, in May 1903.

Gauguin signed this bank draft acknowledging receipt of 701 francs, a sum which had been deposited in marks in Hamburg, Germany by Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939), Gauguin's agent since 1899 and a well-known patron of many struggling avant-garde artists.

Translated:

"Atuona

Received from the [stamped: Commercial Society of Oceania / Papeete Agency ] the sum of Seven hundred and one francs equivalent of 557.03 Marks deposited by Mr. A. Vollard Paris to Messieurs Scharf + Rayser [?] Hamburg.

[signed] Paul Gauguin."

Transcribed:

"Atuona

Reçu de la [stamped: Société Commerciale de l'Océanie / Agence de Papeete] la somme de Sept cent et un francs équivalent du Mark 557.03 versés par Mons. A. Vollard Paris à MM. Scharf + Rayser [?] Hambourg.

[signed] Paul Gauguin."

Ambroise Vollard was a Parisian art dealer who financially supported many of the most famous artists of the turn of the twentieth century, including Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso. Vollard secured an exclusive contract with Gauguin in 1899 by which Gauguin was granted a monthly salary of 300 francs, in addition to art materials, in return for a promised artistic output of 25 paintings per year.  This receipt was undoubtedly one or two of Vollard's monthly installments plus materials. Gauguin's personal correspondence from this time period shows how anxious he became when mail was interrupted or he couldn't connect with Vollard.

Gauguin painted such works as "Et l'or de leurs corps (And the gold of their bodies)" (1901), "Le Sorcier d'Hiva Oa (Marquesan Man with a Red Cape)" (1902), and "Jeune Fille à L'éventail (Young Girl with a Fan)" (1902) during his time on the Marquesas Islands (see attached images.) Yet Gauguin's years in Atuona were marked by worsening health, drug dependency, legal trouble, and personal problems. Lingering pain affecting his legs and heart, chronic fatigue, and failing eyesight led the artist to self-medicate with morphine and laudanum. Gauguin's last teenaged native mistress, or vahine, left him to deliver their child in July 1902 and never returned. In March 1903, just two months before his death, Gauguin was charged with libel, fined, and sentenced to prison. He died during the appeal process. Though the general historical consensus is that Gauguin died from secondary symptoms of syphilis, possible other causes of death include a heart attack or morphine overdose.

The Société Commerciale de l'Océanie was a German overseas bank which flourished between 1876-1914. Its predecessor company had begun as a banking exchange counter in Samoa in 1857. The company branch closest to Atuona appears to have been based in Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, still over 800 miles away.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.

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