Tate's £15million unfinished Gauguin 'Tahitians' downgraded to a FAKESeptember 1, 2021
Tate’s £15million unfinished Gauguin masterpiece ‘Tahitians’ is downgraded to a FAKE by leading art institute
- A £15million Gauguin painting owned by Tate has been downgraded to a fake
- Tahitians was acquired by the Tate in 1917 and included in its 2010 exhibition
- Painting included in 1964 catalogue raisonne produced by New York institute
- But it has now been dropped from an updated version of the catalogue
- Tate recognises authenticity of the painting but will keep it ‘under review’
A £15million Gauguin painting owned by the Tate has been downgraded to the status of a fake, with a leading art institute excluding it from a catalogue of the French Post-Impressionist’s works.
Tahitians, an unfinished artwork which depicts a ‘stereotypical colonial Tahiti scene’, was acquired by the Tate in 1917 and was included in its 2010 blockbuster exhibition, Gauguin: Maker of Myth.
The painting was included in a 1964 catalogue raisonne produced by the New York-based Wildenstein Plattner Institute – but has now been dropped from an updated version of the catalogue.
Researchers at the prestigious institute branded the work as ‘exhaustive’, but have so far declined to give their reasons. A Tate spokesman said it recognises the painting’s authenticity but will keep it ‘under review’.
Doubts about its origins were raised last year by Fabrice Fourmanoir, a French art historian, who believes it to be the work of Charles Alfred Le Moine, an artist who lived in Polynesia in the same period.
Tahitians, an unfinished artwork which depicts a ‘stereotypical colonial Tahiti scene’, was acquired by the Tate in 1917 and was included in its 2010 blockbuster exhibition, Gauguin: Maker of Myth
He told The Art Newspaper that the details and composition of the work – a young man is painted in oils, while three women are sketched in blue crayon and charcoal – are ‘very typical’ of Le Moine.
‘It is a stereotypical colonial Tahiti scene, whereas Gauguin was looking for more primitive compositions. The poses, dresses and even the European accordion held by the woman show Tahitians ‘corrupted’ by European customs,’ he said.
‘The poses, the dress and the man carrying bananas are very typical,’ he added.
Tahitians is dated to around 1891 and its first recorded owner was the Galerie Druet in Paris. It was bought by Roger Fry in 1910 on behalf of the Contemporary Art Society and presented to the Tate in 1917.
Mr Fourmanoir believes that someone coming from France to search for paintings soon after Gauguin’s death commissioned Le Moine to make a pastiche, which was then sold to the Galerie Druet.
Doubts about its origins were raised last year by Fabrice Fourmanoir, a French art historian, who believes it to be the work of Charles Alfred Le Moine, an artist who lived in Polynesia in the same period
The Tate dates the painting to around 1891, very soon after Gauguin’s arrival in Tahiti. Its curators suggest it is an early study, ‘in order to come to terms with his new subject matter’.
It has not been on public display in London since the 2010 exhibition. However, when that show travelled to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC the next year, Tahitians was not included.
The painting was also included in a group exhibition of modern and contemporary drawings in 2012-13, shown at Tate Liverpool.
A Tate spokesman said: ‘The work was included by the Wildenstein Institute in the first edition of their Gauguin catalogue raisonne in 1964 and Tate was not contacted prior to the publication of their latest edition.
‘We recognise there has been ongoing research into Gauguin’s work in recent years, so we will keep the work under review and retain an open mind about any research that might help cast familiar works in a new light.’
MailOnline has contacted Tate for further comment.
Paul Gauguin: French Post-Impressionist who slept with teenage girls and sailed to Tahiti to paint Polynesians he branded ‘savages’
Paul Gauguin was one of the most influential artists of the 19th Century
Paul Gauguin was one of the most influential artists of the 19th Century.
He was the son of a French journalist and his wife, herself the daughter of a prominent Peruvian socialist, and grew up in luxury in Peru and France.
Gauguin first came into contact with the Impressionists as a patron and a collector, and became friends with several artists including Camille Pissarro, who became a mentor.
He became a full-time artist after losing his job following the 1882 crash, and moved to Brittany where he founded the School of Pont-Aven.
Gauguin’s bold vision saw him allied with Vincent van Gogh, and moved to Arles to set up a ‘School of the South’.
However, it was during Gauguin’s stay that Van Gogh cut off part of his own ear and was detained by the authorities because of his mental instability.
Gauguin carried on in France for a few more years before sailing to Tahiti, where he painted the locals.
After another stint in France, he would again return to the Pacific for good, living in Tahiti and then the Marquesas, working in isolation from Western influences.
Gauguin has split the artworld, with his advocates pointing to his innovative style and impact on culture.
Others point to his legacy of numerous sexual encounters with teenage girls and calling the Polynesian people he painted ‘savages’.
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