||Gauguin, Eugène Henri Paul
Painted during Gauguin's first Tahitian period, this picture is one of the first examples of his use of a synthetic method of depicting Tahitian landscape and figures. While working on the canvas, Gauguin used a scene from Tahitian life that he later described in the pages of his book Noa Noa: "On the shore, two sisters are lying after bathing, in the graceful poses of resting animals; they speak of yesterday's love and tomorrows victories. The recollection causes them to quarrel: 'What, Are You Jealous?' " Gauguin tried to write the last phrase in Tahitian on the painting itself — Aha oe feii. Danielsson noticed that Gauguin misunderstood the actual meaning of the Tahitian words, which actually translate as "having a grudge against somebody." On this basis, Cooper translated the name of the Moscow painting as "Pourquoi me portes-tu rancune?" (D. Cooper in Burlington Magazine September 1983, p. 576, no. 19). This translation is incorrect, as Gauguin himself wanted to name the painting by using a phrase from his book Noa Noa: "Eh quoi? tu es jalouse!," which was the name the artist gave to the painting at the Durand-Ruel exhibition in 1893. No joke is made in the painting; the girls' poses are very precise and the central figure is borrowed from a statue of Dionysus, a photo of which Gauguin had brought with him to Tahiti. Gauguin considered this canvas very important. In his letter to Daniel de Monfreid in August 1892, he wrote that he was satisfied with the canvas and thought it significant. In December 1892, Gauguin sent several of his paintings, including this one, to an exhibition in Denmark. In a letter to his wife, he asked her not to sell it for less than 800 francs. The central figure of the Tahitian woman in a wreath of white flowers was later repeated by Gauguin in a number of canvases: Nave Nave Moe, 1894, included in this exhibition, no. 21; Les Tahitiennes dans la Chambre, 1896, also included in this exhibition as Relax, no. 23; Femmes au Bord de la Riviere, 1898; Le Grand Bouddha, 1899; and Uor de Leur Corps, 1901.
The model in the same pose is also repeated in watercolors, drawings, and etchings made by Gauguin to illustrate his book Noa Noa and his Tahitian Sketchbook.
Signed and dated, bottom center: R Gauguin 92
Inscribed, bottom left: Aha oe feii?
Pushkin Museum, inv. no. 3269
1895, sale of Gauguin's paintings in the Hotel Drouot, no. 19 (bought by Leclanche for 500 francs);
1908, Shchukin collection, Moscow;
1918, First Museum of Modern Western Painting, Moscow;
1923, Museum of Modern Western Art, Moscow;
since 1948, Pushkin Museum, Moscow.