Landscape with Dog
Oil on canvas
73.5 x 92.5 cm
Bequest of Robert and Marguerite Kahn-Sriber, Paris, to the State of Israel, in memory of Amnon Ben Natan, who fell in the Yom Kippur War. On permanent loan to The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, from the Administrator General of Israel
Accession number: L-B01.001
Gauguin arrived in Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, in June 1891, in search of an environment unscathed by modern civilization. To his great disappointment, he learned that Christian missionaries had largely destroyed the primitive lifestyle, tribal art, and pagan religion he had hoped to find there. Faced with this reality, Gauguin set out to reinvent the lost culture he sought, through observation of the little that remained of indigenous rites and lore, and by perusing books and using his imagination.
By 1901, he felt the need for an even more primitive setting and left Tahiti for the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. It was not long before he found himself at odds with the local authorities, both civil and religious. Something of these altercations may be echoed in the menacing way the large black animal in the foreground of Landscape with Dog faces the hen, whose chest is puffed out as if anticipating battle.
In all other respects, however, the landscape depicted is idyllic. Gauguin's paintings of this period evolved in the direction of greater restraint and simplicity of form, characteristics exemplified in Landscape with Dog. Looking toward the mountains, with Ben Varney's store in the middle ground, the hills recede in horizontal bands composed of realistic greens and grays as well as fantastic pinks and purples. One of only six works completed in the last half-year of his life, this painting features the brilliant tonal combinations that were typical of Gauguin's final masterpieces, and that were to prove to be so meaningful for the Fauves.