About This Artwork

Paul Gauguin
French, 1848-1903

Polynesian Woman with Children, 1901

Oil on linen canvas
97 x 74 cm (38 3/16 x 29 1/8 in.)
Inscribed upper left: Paul Gauguin 1901

Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1927.460

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

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Munich, Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser, Paul Gauguin, 1910, no cat.; travelled to Dresden, Arnold Kunst Salon, 1910.

Berlin, Galerien Thannhauser, Erste Sonderausstellung in Berlin, January 9–mid-February, 1927, no. 103.

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh, November 8–December 7, 1929, no. 49.

Buffalo, New York, Albright Art Gallery, Nineteenth Century French Art, November 1–13, 1932, no. 26.

The Art Gallery of Toronto, Modern French Painting from Manet to Matisse, January 1933, no. 18.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1–November 1, 1933, no. 362.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1–November 1, 1934, no. 306.

Art Institute of Chicago, Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture, February 12–March 29, 1959, no. 66; traveled to New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 21–May 31, 1959.

Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, The Art of Paul Gauguin, May 1–July 31, 1988; traveled to Art Institute of Chicago, September 17–December 11, 1988; Paris, Grand Palais, January 10–April 20, 1989 (Chicago only, supplement no. 9).

Fort Worth, Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, no. 73.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, German Expressionism and France: From Van Gogh and Gauguin to the Blue Rider , June 8-September 14, 2014; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, October 6, 2014-January 25, 2015.

Publication History

Rudolf Meyer-Riefstahl, “Paul Gauguin,” Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration 27 (1910–1911), p. 115 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago Forty-Ninth Annual Report (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1927), p. 20, (ill.).

R. M. Fishkin, “A Late Gauguin,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 21, 6 (1927), pp. 74–75 (ill.).

R. M. Fishkin, “Gauguin Given to Art Institute,” Art News 25, 40 (1927), p. 7.

Morton Dauwen Zabel, “An American Gallery of Modern Painting,” Art and Archaeology 26, 6 (1928), p. 233.

Art Institute of Chicago, Modern Paintings in the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial from the Birch-Bartlett Collection, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1929), pp. 14–15 (ill.), 58; revised edition (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1946).

R. H. Wilenski, French Painting, 2nd ed. (Boston: Hale, Cushman & Flint, Inc., 1931), p. 289; revised editions (Boston: Hale, Cushman & Inc., 1936); (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1973).

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1932), p. 154.

“Museum News: Acquisitions and Activities of the Art Centers,” Parnassus 4, 7 (1932), p. 14 (ill.).

“Chicago Show to Present French Modern Classics,” Art News 31, 34 (1933), p. 4.

“The Rearrangement of the Painting Galleries,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 27, 7 (1933), p. 116.

Wiebe A. White, Paintings by Paul Gauguin Owned in the United States of America and The Hawaiian Islands (unpub. ms., Ryerson Library, 1936), p. 60.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 171.

George Wildenstein, Gauguin, vol. 1(Paris: Les Beaux-arts, 1964), p. 253 (ill.), no. 595.

G. M. Sugana, L’opera completa di Gauguin (Milan: Rizzoli, 1972), pp. 111 (ill.), 113, no. 423.

Lee van Dowski, Die Wahrheit über Gauguin (Darmstadt: J. G. Bläschke, 1973), p. 275, no. 373a.

‘The Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 12, 2 (1986), pp. 222, 228 (ill.), no. 7.

Richard R. Brettell, Post–Impressionists (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago and New York: H. N. Abrams, 1987), pp. 78 (ill.), 79.

Marla Prather and Charles F. Stuckey, eds., Gauguin: A Retrospective (New York: Hugh Lauter Levin, 1987), p. 287 (ill.).

Françoise Cachin, Gauguin (Paris: Flammarion, 1988), p. 296; translated (Paris: Flammarion, 1990).

Inge Fiedler and Michael A. Bayard, “Emerald Green and Scheele’s Green,” in Elisabeth West FitzHugh, ed. Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, vol. 3 (Washington D. C.: National Gallery of Art, 1997), p. 264.

Britt Salvesen, Gauguin (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2001), pp. 68, 111, pl. 31, no. 31.

Joseph R. Rishel, in Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller, eds., Masterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 189, under no. 36.

Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), p. 151 (ill.), no. 73; revised edition (Art Institute of Chicago and Yale University Press, 2010).

Benson, Timothy O., Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky. (Copyright 2014 Museum Associates/ Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Prestel Verlag, Munich, London, New York) Published in conjunction with the exhibition Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky. Plate 43/ cat. 64.

Ownership History

Ambroise Vollard [according to Meyer-Riefstahl 1910-1911, it was lent by him to Dresden 1910 and Munich 1910]. Moderne Galerie Heinrich Thannhauser, Munich, by 1927 [included in Berlin 1927]; purchased by Frederic C. Bartlett, Chicago, February 1927 from Berlin 1927 [according to a letter from Frederic C. Bartlett to Heinrich Thannhauser dated May 21, 1927, Art Institute archives, copy in curatorial file]; given to the Art Institute, 1927.

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