The White Horse, 1898

During his second stay on Tahiti (1895–1901), Gauguin lived in seclusion near the capital of Papeete. Inspired by the island’s forests and mountains, he produced paintings in which humans, animals and nature are transported into an unspoiled, paradisiacal sphere. In The White Horse, too, the horses and their naked riders move through an idyllic landscape of this kind, its rich vegetation covering the entire
canvas. The white horse of the title is drinking peacefully in the middle of a stream that runs from the upper to the lower edge of the composition and which accentuates the elevated viewpoint without conveying any sense of spatial depth. The shapely branches of the burao hibiscus tree and the tall leaves in the foreground steer our gaze towards the noble animal and emphasize its central position in the picture. Nature presents itself as a work of ornamental splendor and a dense tapestry of color. In this painting without sky or horizon, riders, horses and natural surroundings form a harmonious unity.


Oil on canvas, 140 x 91,5 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay)/Gérard Blot


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