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Nave Nave Mahana

Paul Gauguin1896

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

Paul Gauguin painted this picture in Tahiti in 1896. Its title, Nave Nave Nahana, means Delicious Day in the Maori language.

A group of mysterious young girls seem to be busy gathering fruit from the branches of trees. Their feet are firmly planted on the red soil and the sky behind them is yellow. Their stillness and monumental stance, their stylized forms, the rhythm of the elements in the frieze, and the range of colors are reminiscent of ancient or “primitive” representations.

In his work, Gauguin evoked an exotic and timeless internal vision based on what he saw around him: between poetic idealism and melancholy heaviness; delight and sorrow. Fixed, distant, silent, with their eyes cast down, their faces serious, could these figures be a revealing depiction of the isolation of the artist, who was ill at the time?

This picture was added to the museum’s collection in 1913. It was the first of Gauguin’s pictures to be bought by a French museum—quite a bold initiative at the time because, at the start of the 20th century, Gauguin’s style was not always well received by the public, or even by connoisseurs. Today, the work is one of the masterpieces in the museum’s collection of paintings.

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Details

  • Title: Nave Nave Mahana
  • Creator: Paul Gauguin
  • Date Created: 1896
  • Location: Lyon, France
  • Physical Dimensions: H.95 ; L. 130 cm
  • Provenance: Acquired in 1913
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Image © Lyon MBA - Photo Alain Basset

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