The Art Newspaper | Martin Bailey

Amsterdam show on the artist’s Martinique trip also reveals Tate watercolour as a genuine work by Gauguin

Sketches of a Caribbean kitten were reused by Paul Gauguin in a painting which he made while he was living with Vincent van Gogh in Arles. The drawings—one of which has just gone on show in Amsterdam in the Van Gogh Museum’s exhibition on Gauguin and Laval in Martinique (until 13 January 2019)—are from a sketchbook used by Gauguin on the island in the summer of 1887.

When Gauguin later stayed with Van Gogh in the Yellow House, in 1888, he brought with him the sketchbook, which includes several drawings of a kitten, in slightly different positions. The pet probably belonged to a neighbour in the settlement where Gauguin and his artist friend Charles Laval lodged just outside the Martinique town of Saint-Pierre.

One of the sketchbook pages, which does not seem to have been exhibited before, shows a kitten drinking from a bowl. Gauguin also used the kitten as a detail in a Martinique painting, Tropical Conversation (belonging to a private collection, it could not be borrowed for the show) and much later in his 1897 masterpiece, now at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?…read more