The Willow Tree (Le saule)

Paul Gauguin1889

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Paul Gauguin exhibited in several Impressionist shows, but in the mid- to late-1880s, he sought to move away from Impressionist naturalism towards the use of intense, non-naturalistic colors. This work was painted on the coast of Brittany, which Gauguin had first visited in 1886 in search of the "authenticity" of peasant culture in contrast to the urban decadence of Paris. Gauguin represents an autumnal landscape with simplified forms and flat color patches, contrasting the brilliant oranges of the deciduous foliage, the green grasses and the distant blue sea. Pollarded willows were a favorite subject for Gauguin, and here he explored the contrast between the trees' bulbous trunks and the lengthy sprouts used to make fences, baskets and brooms.

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  • Title: The Willow Tree (Le saule)
  • Creator: Paul Gauguin
  • Date Created: 1889
  • Physical Dimensions: Unframed: 36 1/4 x 28 7/8 inches (92.08 x 73.34 cm) Framed: 47 1/4 x 40 1/4 x 3 1/2 inches (120.02 x 102.24 x 8.89 cm)
  • Culture: French
  • Rights: Gift of Henry W. and Marion H. Bloch
  • Medium: Oil on canvas