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'Faa Iheihe' was painted in Tahiti, where Gauguin spent his last years. It seems to represent an earthly paradise of men and women in harmony with nature. Indeed, it has sometimes been subtitled 'Tahitian Pastoral'. Gauguin found great inspiration in Tahiti, and wrote in 1898, 'Each day - my latest important paintings attest to this - I realise that I have not yet said all there is to say here in Tahiti ... whereas in France, with all the disgust I feel there, my brain would probably be sterile; the cold freezes me both physically and mentally, and everything becomes ugly to my eyes.' 'Faa Iheihe' may mean in Tahitian 'to beautify'.

August 2004