Soyez amoureuses vous serez heureuses (Be In Love and You Will Be Happy)

French
1889
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)


Object Place: Europe, France

Catalogue Raisonné

Gray 076

Dimensions

95 x 72 x 6.4 cm (37 3/8 x 28 3/8 x 2 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

57.582

Medium or Technique

Carved and painted linden wood

Not On View

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Sculpture

Carved and polychromed wood panel in original frame. “Soyez amoureuses vous serez heureuses” on arch amid figures and faces. Gauguin grasping hand of nude woman seated at left. Mourning female nude, cat and flowers at right.


Gauguin accorded great importance to his sculptures. His childhood memories of Peru, a trip to Martinique, and the African art he saw at the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris stimulated his interest in “primitive” civilizations and prompted him to convey the same spontaneity and vigor in his own work. This relief was carved during one of Gauguin’s immensely productive visits to Pont-Aven, in Brittany. He wrote that he considered it “the best and strangest thing I have ever done in sculpture. Gauguin (as monster) seizing the hand of a protesting woman and telling her: ‘Be in love and you will be happy.’” Much about this sculpture foreshadows the art Gauguin created after he left France for the islands of the South Pacific.

Provenance

1889 until 1893, with the Galerie Goupil (Boussod et Valadon), Paris [see note 1]. 1907, private collection [see note 2]. Émile Schuffenecker (b. 1851 - d. 1934), Paris; by 1928, his brother, Amédée Schuffenecker (b. 1854 - d. 1936), Saint-Maur; 1936, by inheritance to his niece (Émile's daughter), Jeanne Schuffenecker, Paris [see note 3]. By 1949, private collection (possibly Margaret Thompson Biddle, b. 1902 - d. 1956), Paris [see note 4]; June 14, 1957, posthumous Biddle sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, lot A, to Huguette Berès (b. 1914 - d. 1999), Paris, for the MFA for $33,887.71. (Accession Date: September 12, 1957)

NOTES:
[1] Gauguin consigned the sculpture for sale to the Galerie Goupil; in 1893 it was returned to him at the studio of Daniel de Monfried. See George T. M. Shackelford, introduction to Gauguin Tahiti (exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2003), pp. 7, 10-11, and p. 342 (Chronology), and Christopher Gray, Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin (New York, 1983), pp. 42, 195, and 207.

[2] Lent from a private collection to the exhibition "Paul Gauguin" (Galerie Miethke, Vienna, March-April, 1907), cat. no. 6. Whether Schuffenecker already owned it at this time, and was the private collector listed in the catalogue, is not known.

[3] In 1928, Amédée Schuffenecker lent the sculpture to Musée du Luxembourg and in 1932, he offered it for purchase to the French government. Upon his death the sculpture was inherited by his niece. See Anne Pingeot, "The House of Pleasure: Tahiti and the Marquesas, 1895-1903,” in Gauguin Tahiti (as above, n. 1), pp. 264-265.

[4] The sculpture was lent from a private collection to "Gauguin, Exposition du Centenaire" (Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, 1949), cat. no. 80 and "Gauguin" (Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, February 15 - April 16, 1950), cat. no. 50. It may have been owned at this time by Margaret Thompson Biddle, in whose posthumous auction it was included in 1957.

Credit Line

Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund