Those of you who have followed this blog will know that I’m very keen on Gauguin’s Breton paintings. I wonder if this preference came from having experienced the Brittany that Gauguin knew so well, on a recent trip to Pont-Aven and Le Pouldu: it really can add to your sense of what intrigued and inspired an artist, just walking along streets, lanes, streams and coastlines. I even managed to have a swim in the sea, just like Gauguin, near the view represented in ‘The Harvest’, showing the coastline and distant promontory near Le Pouldu (Gauguin used the same view in The Loss of Virginity. We also visited the Pension Gloanec, now used by the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art, which includes Gauguin’s bedroom, and the studio that he rented in an old manor house on the outskirts. Fascinating! But my favorite moments were seeing the The Trémalo chapell outside Pont-Aven, where Gauguin saw the carved and painted crucifix that inspired The Yellow Christ.
Also, the lower part the calvary outside the church at Nizon was reimagined in The Green Christ (these paintings are hanging side-by-side in Gallery 6, and you can see these photographs in Gallery 3).
If Brittany made its mark on Gauguin, then he has certainly left his mark on modern-day Pont-Aven. There’s an art gallery exhibiting works of the Pont-Aven group, and the art school mentioned above, plus there are references to Gauguin all over the place. His Breton Girls Dancing (NGA, Washington) can be seen outside various shops selling Breton biscuits and the The Trémalo chapel has a large display describing Gauguin’s life and works. I got chatting to someone visiting the chapel who said that the now-famous crucifix had returned recently from restoration a brighter yellow than it had previously been…a homage to Gauguin?