Eric Forbes-Robertson, ‘In the Forest, Pont-Aven’ c.1895
Eric Forbes-Robertson
In the Forest, Pont-Aven c.1895
Paul Gauguin, ‘Harvest: Le Pouldu’ 1890
Paul Gauguin
Harvest: Le Pouldu 1890
Louis Anquetin, ‘Girl Reading a Newspaper’ 1890
Louis Anquetin
Girl Reading a Newspaper 1890

Rather than painting a naturalistic representation of observed reality, Paul Gauguin and his followers at Pont Aven aimed to create art that combined (or synthesised) the subject-matter with the artist’s feelings about the subject and the aesthetic concerns of line, colour and form. As Maurice Denis observed in 1890:

It is well to remember that a picture before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order

An exhibition of ‘synthétisme’ was mounted by the Pont-Aven artists in 1889 and the ‘groupe synthétiste’, including Gauguin and Emile Bernard, was founded in 1891. Another follower of the movement, Paul Sérusier, founded the Nabis group.

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