Mette Gauguin, ca. 1880
Oil on canvas, 116 x 81 cm
Inscribed lower right by Pola Gauguin
Mette Sophie Gauguin, the wife of the artist, then about thirty years of age, whom he had married in 1873, sits at the table bent over her sewing. Her husband, two years older than she, is still the successful broker who is interested in art, both as a collector of Impressionists and as a Sunday painter. Through Gustave Arosa, his guardian, in whose bank he was working, Gauguin had met Camille Pissarro, who became his first teacher. His style of painting from the end of the 1870s, marked by dense brushwork, very clearly betrays Pissarro’s influence. There is as yet little evidence of an own independent manner and still less of how the artist's personality was to develop. The large vertical picture is unsuited for the intimate subject, there is no control over space, and the single pictorial elements remain additive, without fusing into a whole.