The Tremalo chapel Pont Aven
The Trémalo chapel, Pont Aven, where Gauguin saw the carved and painted crucifix that inspired The Yellow Christ

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.

Gauguin Yellow Christ
Inspired by the painted crucifix in Trémalo chapel: Gauguin's Yellow Christ 1889

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).

The calvary outside the church at Nizon
The calvary outside the church at Nizon. Gauguin re-imagined the lower part in The Green Christ

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?

Surely not… 


diana kay

I visited the exhibition yesterday. I had booked my ticket on the internet and found the arrangements for collection very straightforward and the exhibition, although crowded with people was not as squashed and uncomfortable as i had expected given some of the reviews on here. I was interested to see some of the Britany work as i love the scenery and atmosphere of that part of France and i found that section and the background information with the postcards and so on very interesting. I also injoyed seeing the artifacts such as the Paintbox and the drinking mug.

I only noticed the video documentary by chance but found that very interesting too and was a great summary of the exhibition. WELL DONE TATE MODERN ! and well worth the money :-)

Pippa Jones

I too found the exhibition at 12.30 yesterday extremely busy. Much more crowded than Monet at the same time in Paris five weeks ago. I agree with the comment about headphone wearers. Perhaps they could be reminded in future to be considerate. I had to get up very close in order to read the descriptions. I loved the Britanny paintings.

Annabel Birrell

The Gaughin exhibition was excellent, but as someone else said we went at a busy time and the viewing was spoilt by so many people (good for the Tate but not so good for seeing), particularly those with headphones who are not very sensitive to other people's viewing as they wander around concentrating on the verbal descriptions and forget about the public! We realise the lighting has to be carefully handled but felt one or two galleries were a bit dark, 'specially if you wanted to read the descriptions beside the pictures. Perhaps the text could be a stronger colour another time? Otherwise a great show and am returning in a week or so.

deirdre mcardle

or you could just have loads of text and not bother with the cost of shipping the paintings over ! do it ALL online ,save a load of hassle wouldn't it,all those other people, squashed up in that big space too,weird ! Or everyone could go by one at a time ,why not install one of those rides,like a ghost train ?! Cool eh! Then put the paintings in the Hayward ,everything looks better there,they could have lit the Per Kirkeby better,that's for sure. Remember the great Matisse show there?

Miriam Branson

I visited the Gauguin two weeks ago. It was good to have a wider perspective on his work. I was interested to find that he had put a lot of his own ideas of the beliefs of Tahitians and even his own sculptures, into the paintings. I have always thought that his use of colour is wonderful, but in a way he invented his own romantic view of them and his paintings transmit that to us. Greatly enjoyed seeing them and learning more.


My friend and I went to see the Gauguin and his woodwork was very beautiful and the pottery also was very good but I really did not like the paintings.

So why do I say this, they were so dull, it was taking a full palate and then getting rid of all the bright colors with the exception of a few.

I would never have thought that the points of origin were on a hot, beautiful island.

I also felt that the heavy ornate framing do not do the paintings any justice.

The 'door' panels were outstanding both with the construction and the artist's work.

I am very glad that we went together as my friend loved all the work so, in the end, art is both subjective and personal.