The Loss of Virginity

Paul Gauguin1890/1891

Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art

Shortly after quitting his job as a stockbroker, Paul Gauguin moved to Brittany in search of a “savage and primitive” society uncorrupted by modern life. As seen here, he developed a style of painting based on bright, flat patches of unmodulated color that take on a life of their own. Inspired by religious myths and superstitions, he often depicted rituals and rites of passage. Here, he depicts a young woman’s loss of virginity, as symbolized by the plucked flower in her hand. The rest of the picture’s mysteries remain unsolved. Where is her lover? Why is a fox pawing at her chest? Why are villagers approaching from the distance? Do they know her circumstances? Do we?


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  • Title: The Loss of Virginity
  • Creator: Paul Gauguin
  • Date Created: 1890/1891
  • Location Created: France
  • Provenance: The artist, 1891-1895; Gauguin sale, Hôtel des Ventes, Paris, Feb. 18, 1895; Comte Antoine de la Rochefoucauld, Paris, 1895-1948; Bequeathed to the son of Comte Antoine de la Rochefoucauld, E. Rochefoucauld, a dealer, who sold it to Clement Altarriba; Altarriba collection, Paris, (also a dealer); Matthey collection, Paris, 1949; E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, 1954-1955; Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. to The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, 1971.
  • Physical Dimensions: 35 1/4 x 51 1/4 in. (89.5 x 130.2 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas