||Gauguin, Eugène Henri Paul
Simplified in space and gauche in composition, Naked Breton Boy develops the characteristics which in 1888 Gauguin had pinpointed in his canvas of boys wrestling – ‘wholly Japanese , by a savage from Peru, and very thinly painted’; the composition here, and the accentuated outlines, certainly echo Japanese prints, though the lack of perspective also shows the deliberately naïve vision which Gauguin had been cultivating since 1886 as a means of expressing the primitive quality of the Breton scene. This canvas echoes Gauguin’s instructions to Chamaillard at Pont-Aven, that ‘every object had its form and colour, properly specified with a precise contour. This, together with his love of line and of the arabesque, formed the essential part of his theory’ (quoted London, Tate Gallery , Gauguin and the Pont-Aven Group, 1966, p. 9).
Gauguin painted several canvases of nude Breton boys, either wrestling (a popular Breton custom) or after bathing. In part at least, this was the result of the difficulty of finding women to pose nude at Pont-Avent, though an interest in physical immaturity - in both boys and girls – played a recurrent part in his sexual attitudes.