Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903)

Nature morte aux pamplemousses

Still Life with Grapefruits
1901 or 1902
    Oil on canvas
66 × 76.5 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Signed ‘P. Gauguin’ (lower left) and dated illegibly

Druet Collection, Paris

Private collection, Paris

Dr. Meirowsky, Berlin

Wildenstein & Co., New York

Margaret Thompson Biddle, Paris

Anonymous sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 14 June 1957, lot 21

Private collection, since 1957


Geneva, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Gauguin, 1948

Geneva, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, De Watteau à Cézanne, 7 July - 30 September 1951, no. 74

Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent Chefs-d’œuvre de l’Art Français, 1957, no. 35

Chicago, The Art Institute, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gauguin, Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture, respectively 12 February - 29 March 1959 and 23 April - 31 May 1959, no. 35

Lausanne, Fondation de l’Hermitage, L’Impressionnisme dans les collections romandes (ses précurseurs, ses maîtres, son héritage), 16 June - 21 October 1984

Washington, National Gallery of Art, Chicago, Art Institute, Paris, Grand Palais, The Art of Paul Gauguin, respectively 1 May 1988 - 31 July 1988 and 17 September - 11 December 1988, no. 255, pp. 458-459, ill. pp. 388, 458 in the American catalogue, and 10 January - 20 April 1989, no. 255, pp. 443, ill. pp. 377, 442 in the French catalogue

Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Classics of Modern Art, 27 June - 19 September 1999, pp. 64-69, ill. p. 65


John Rewald, Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1938, no. 96, p. 166

Lee van Dovski, Gauguin, Berne, 1948, no. 375, p. 353

Maurice Malingue, Gauguin, Paris, 1948, vol. 2, no. 224

Collection de Mrs. Margaret Thompson Biddle, sale catalogue, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 14 June 1957, no. 21, illustrated on the cover and on the inside

Guillaume Hanoteau, “Adjugé 104 Millions”, Paris Match, no. 429, 29 June 1957, pp. 16, 17, 19, 67

L’Œil, September 1957, ill. p. 6

Georges Wildenstein, Paul Gauguin: Catalogue Raisonné, Lausanne, 1964, vol. I, no. 631, ill. p. 268

Michel Hoog, Paul Gauguin: Life and Work, Rizzoli, New York, 1987, p. 272

Françoise Cachin, Gauguin, Flammarion, Paris, 1988, no. 276, p. 258, ill. p. 259

Current location
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Floor 1st
Tour Guide Code
Audio Guide

In July 1895, Paul Gauguin made his second and last voyage to Tahiti, leaving France once and for all. The reasons that led him to this decision are the lack of recognition in his homeland, financial difficulties and the constant desire to flee. Despite his health problems and a suicide attempt in December 1897, he was extremely productive: he was drawing, painting, sculpting, engraving, writing. In addition to Tahitian women, Gauguin painted many still lifes, a rather conventional subject; however, he treated it by setting his own pictorial concerns such as surface division, colour balance, treatment of volumes. In this approach the great admiration for Paul Cézanne and his still lifes is evident.

It is believed that Gauguin painted Still life with grapefruits, which for many years was entitled Still life with apples and flowers, in 1901. Experts came to this conclusion based on the arrangement of objects on the leather trunk, bringing the composition close to other paintings which were carried out in the same year, and on his confinement to the hospital and subsequently to his studio due to illness, which drove him to paint without a model.

The painter’s main concern was not just the arrangement of the objects, the perspective and realism of the depiction, but the layout of the colours and the creation of a sensory harmony, by taking advantage of the enigmatic nature of colour over the sense it transfers us, as he said. His working method moved him away from Cézanne’s influence. Where Cézanne opted for cold colours, Gauguin opted for the opposite. The classic elements of Western still life have been replaced by exotic flowers, peppers and grapefruits; only the treatment of the tablecloth is similar, offering the same unity, the same harmony to the whole. Regarding the depth of the table, “the splendid bright yellow of the background gives this utterly simple depiction of fruit and flowers a character of gold-framed religious painting, which adds something noble and precious to this “offering”.”

In general, the works Gauguin carried out during his stay in Polynesia go beyond mere study, ethnographic or anthropological documentation, letting us see a man tormented and resentful in many ways, but in complete harmony with the nature surrounding him. Still life with grapefruits with its simple thematic but meticulous execution, bears witness to its creator endless search for the absolute.



Paul Gauguin
(1848 - 1903)
First Name
Eugène Henri Paul
Last Name
Paris, France, 1848
Atuona, French Polynesia, 1903