About This Artwork

Paul Gauguin
French, 1848-1903

Arlésiennes (Mistral), 1888

Oil on jute canvas
73 x 92 cm (28 3/4 x 36 3/16 in.)
Inscribed lower left: P Gauguin. '88

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1934.391

One of seventeen canvases that Paul Gauguin completed during a brief and tumultuous visit with Vincent van Gogh in Arles, this powerful and enigmatic painting depicts the public garden directly across from Van Gogh’s residence, the “Yellow House.” Not only is the careful planning of the composition in marked contrast to the spontaneity seen in Van Gogh’s depiction of the same scene (State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg), but everything about the painting—its large, flat areas of color; arbitrary handling of space; and enigmatic silhouettes—also exemplifies the deliberateness with which Gauguin sought pictorial harmony and symbolic content in his work. Here four women wrapped in shawls slowly stroll through the garden. The two closest to the viewer avert their gazes and curiously cover their mouths. Their somber outlines echo the two orange cones, which probably represent shrubs wrapped against the frost. The bench along the upper-left path rises steeply, defying logical perspective. Equally puzzling is the mysterious bush on the left, in which Gauguin consciously embedded forms that suggest eyes and a nose, creating the impression of a strange, watchful presence. With its aura of repressed emotion and elusive meaning, Arlésiennes (Mistral) explores the ambiguities, mysteries, and emotions that Gauguin believed underlie appearances.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Berlin, Hugo Perls, De Delacroix à Gauguin, 1925, cat. 14.

Basel, Kunsthalle, Paul Gauguin, 1848–1903, July-August 1928, cat. 39 or 44.

Berlin, Galerie Thannhauser, Paul Gauguin 1848–1903, October 1928, cat. 30.

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, November 1929, cat. 40.

Providence, RI, Rhode Island School of Design, Modern French Art, March 11-31, 1930, cat. 14.

St. Louis, The City Art Museum, An Exhibition of Paintings and Prints by the Masters of Post-Impressionism, April 4-26, 1931, cat. 15.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1-November 1, 1934, cat. 302.

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Cubism and Abstract Art, March 4-April 12, 1936., cat. 79.

The San Francisco Museum of Art, 1936, cat. 61.

The San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco supplement to the catalogue of Les Fauves, March 13-April 12, 1953, no cat. no. (shown in San Francisco only).

Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, De David à Toulouse-Lautrec: Chef-d'oeuvres des collections américaines, March-August 1955, cat. 28, pl. 74.

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gauguin, Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture, February 12-March 29, 1959; traveled to New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 21-May 31, 1959, cat. 13.

Paris, Musée national d'Art Moderne, Les Sources du XXe siècle. Les Arts en Europe de 1884 à 1914. November 4, 1960-January 23, 1961, cat. 173.

The Cincinnati Art Museum, The Early Work of Paul Gauguin. Genesis of An Artist, March 18-April 26, 1971, cat. 18.

London, Royal Academy of Arts, Post-Impressionism: Cross-Currents in European Painting, November 17, 1979-March 16, 1980; traveled to Washington, DC, The National Gallery, May 25-September 1, 1980, cat. 86.

Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago. June 27-August 31, 1980, cat. 29 (ill.).

Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Vincent van Gogh and the Birth of Cloisonism, January 24–March 22, 1981; traveled to Amsterdam, The Van Gogh Museum, April 9–June 14, 1981, cat. 55.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Van Gogh in Arles, October 18-December 30, 1984, cat. 127.

Washington, DC, The National Gallery, The Art of Paul Gauguin, May 1-July 31, 1988; traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, September 17–December 11,1988 and Paris, Grand Palais, January 10–April 20, 1989, cat. 58.

Moscow, The Pushkin Museum, Gauguin in the Soviet Union, May-June 1989; traveled to Leningrad, The Hermitage, July-October 1981, cat. 11.

Tokyo, ASAHI Shimbun, Masterworks of Modern Art from The Art Institute of Chicago; traveled to Nagaoka, Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, April 20–May 29, 1994; Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, June 10–July 24, 1994: Yokohama Museum of Art, August 6–September 25, 1994, cat. 19.

The Saint Louis Art Museum, Vincent van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard, February 17-May 13, 2001, ill. p. 177.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South, September 22, 2001-January 13, 2002; traveled to Amsterdam, The Van Gogh Museum, February 9-June 2, 2002, cat. 50.

Brescia, Italy, Museo di Santa Guilia, Gauguin–Van Gogh: L’avventura del colore nuovo, October 22, 2005–March 19, 2006, cat. 91, pp. 168–169 (ill.), 381–2.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, cat. 59 (ill.).

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth, February 14–April 26, 2009, cat. 104 (ill.).

Cleveland, OH, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889, October 4, 2009- January 6, 2010, Amsterdamn, Van Gogh Museum, February 19- Jun 6, 2010. cat. 91

Museum Folkwang Essen, Manet, Monet, van Gogh – Japanese Inspirations, September 27, 2014-February 1, 2015; Kunsthaus Zürich, February 20-May 25, 2015.

Publication History

Daniel Catton Rich, "Gauguin in Arles," Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 29 (1935), pp. 34-37, ill. on the cover.

René Huyghe, Le Carnet de Paul Gauguin, 2 vols. (Paris, 1952), pp. 100, 101.

Mark Roskill, Van Gogh, Gauguin and the Impressionist Circle (New York, 1970), pp. 128 (ill), 145-6.

John Rewald. Post-Impressionism from Van Gogh to Gauguin (New York, 1956), pp. 254, 256.

Yvonne Thirion, "L'Influence de L'Estampe Japonaise dans l'oeuvre de Gauguin," Gazette des Beaux-Arts, per. 6, vol. 47(January-April 1956), p. 107.

John Rewald, "Theo van Gogh, Goupil and the Impressionists," Gazette des Beaux-Arts 81 (1973), pp. 35-36.

Georges Wildenstein, Gauguin (Paris, 1964), no. 300.

Richard Brettell, Post-Impressionists (Chicago, 1987), pp. 28 (ill. detail), 29-30, 31(ill).

Daniel Wildenstein, Gauguin (Paris, 2001), no. 329.

The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (New Haven and London, 2008), cat. 59, pp. 126–27 (ill.).

Agnieszka Juszczak, "The Iconography of the Valpini Suite", Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889, Exh. cat (Cleveland Musum of Art, 2010), p. 153, p.159, p.161, cat. 91.

Ownership History

Sold by the artist to Théo van Gogh for 300 Francs probably in the first half of 1889 [according to "carnet de l'artiste," 1888-1889, see Huyghe 1952, p. 223]; Émile Schuffenecker [according to Jeanne Schuffenecker, see Wildenstein 2001]; Thannhauser Galerie, Lucerne, c. 1923, stock no. 1167 [according to Wildenstein 2001]. James W. Barney, New York, c. 1929 [according to New York 1929 exh. cat.]. De Hauke and Co., New York, 1930 [according to Providence, R. I. 1930 exh. cat.]. Jacques Seligmann and Co., New York by 1931 [according to St. Louis 1931 exh. cat.; De Hauke and Seligmann may have owned the picture together since they were partners until about 1931]; sold to the Art Institute, October 26, 1934, using funds from the Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Fund.

View mobile website