About This Artwork

Paul Gauguin
French, 1848-1903

Polynesian Woman with Children, 1901

Oil on canvas
38 1/4 x 29 1/4 in. (97.1 x 74.2 cm)

Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1927.460

Wildenstein Gauguin 1964 595

In this painting, the young boy in the woman’s lap may be Paul Gauguin’s son, born to his Tahitian lover Pahura. The boy was named Emil after the artist’s eldest legitimate child. The older woman may be the boy’s grandmother. This composition recalls the common Christian image of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child and young Saint John the Baptist, although here the older child is presumably a girl.

— Permanent collection label

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