Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

D'ou Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous


Completion Date: 1897

Place of Creation: Punaauia, French Polynesia

Style: Post-Impressionism

Period: 2nd Tahiti period

Genre: allegorical painting

Technique: oil

Material: canvas

Dimensions: 139.1 x 374.6 cm

Gallery: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA

Tags: allegories-and-symbols, Tahiti

This is Paul Gaugin’s most famous painting, and he considered it his masterpiece, and the culmination of his thoughts. In Tahiti, as he was painting his masterpiece, Gaugin declared that he would commit suicide upon its completion. Although this was something he had previously attempted, this was not the case, as the artist died of syphilis in 1903. The painting was meant to be read from right to left, with the three main figures in the painting representing the three questions of the title. The figures are arranged from the beginning stages of life, from young figures with a child, to the middle aged figure in the middle, to the elder figure on the left of the painting. The idol in the background, situated behind the elder figure, represents the “Beyond.”

This artwork is in the public domain. Why?

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