Girl with a Fan
Long prior to reaching notoriety for his operation in the tropical paradise of Tahiti, Paul Gauguin was nothing but an impoverished artist, attempting to survive in Paris by selling his work to an art market still reeling from the stock exchange crash of 1882. As such, that was a very speculative period not only for Gauguin, but for all of his peers who were considered as Impressionists, and it is not uncommon to see a specific exchange of styles among them as if they were all trying to come up with a mix that would sell well.
Having been far from France for a number of years, partially due to his marital relationship to the Danish Mette-Sophie Gad, Gauguin returned in 1885 to an extremely different art market, and his inability to produce material that would be appealing for art purchasers left his financial resources in dire straits, requiring him to take a number of routine jobs, which cut much more into his time readily available to produce more paintings. Because of that, Gauguin’s duration in Paris between 1885 and 1886 was his least efficient one in the matter of paintings, however exceptionally efficient when it came to friction with other painters who were doing commercially well, such as Seurat and Pissarro.
Throughout that duration of fairly little productivity, Gauguin would produce paintings such as this oil on canvas, finished in 1885 and now in belongings of private collectors. Little in it can be seen and understood as Gauguin’s particular style, which would only develop in the years after the Paris offseason.
Conversely, the brushwork in this piece is rather distinct from his later profession, which could even cause a discussion on whether a starving Gauguin wasn’t enabling monetary considerations to bleed into his work, catering to what would be more popular and thus simpler to offer. It would not be too ambitious to state that the period and context in which this landscape was produced is very likely to have actually been the factor behind Gauguin’s self-imposed exile to the Pacific Isles, wanting to get away the mercantilism of European art.