||Gauguin, Eugène Henri Paul
This picture was almost certainly painted in Denmark before Gauguin returned to Paris and probably represents various members of the Gad family (the family of his wife Mette) in the salon. In later years, Gauguin was to wrote: ‘I too, am familiar with the north of Europe, but the best thing I found there was most certainly not my mother-in-law , but the game that she cooked so admirably’. The two quail (?) in the foreground still-life are perhaps a symbol of his only pleasurable experience in Copenhagen. Before leaving France Gauguin had secured his nomination as agent in Denmark for a firm of Parisian awning-makers (MM. /Dillies &Co). He hoped by this means to earn sufficient money to keep his family and be free to continue painting. But things worked out differently since he could not get enough orders, detested the Danes and was resented as a penniless hanger-on by the Gad family. Accordingly he and Mette decided to separate temporarily in June 1885, Gauguin returning to Paris with his son Cloyis (aged 6). Though they met on two subsequent occasions, this separation was to prove final.
During the nine months which he spent in Copenhagen, Gauguin drew and painted in every spare moment: he also thought a great deal about artistic theories and began to evolve his own aesthetic. In this picture Gauguin can already by seen developing his individuality of vision. A daring and original composition with a still-life seen close up from above in the immediate foreground and , seen in another perspective, a spatial opening through to a subsidiary subject behind. Direct light in the foreground , counter-light in the background ; not at all an Impressionist conception.