The artist chooses a picturesque spot from which to capture the beauty of this Caribbean island which is famed for its rocky cliff faces. In front of us directly we find a few simple paths that meander their way down to the sea which laps against the shore all the way into the distance. A variety of foliage decorates the land, with trees and an assortment of wild-growing flowers. Further towards the back of this scene we find the rocky cliffs and mountains which skirt the shoreline. The artist chooses to capture many of these natural elements with flat plains of colour, creating almost a patchwork of colour across the composition. There is also a good variety of palette within that, with tones of turquiose, green, blue, red and orange merging closely together.
Portraiture was the main focus of Gauguin's career but he couldn't resist turning to landscape painting once he had arrived in some of the stunning locations that would dominate the second half of this life. Eventually, he would settle in Tahiti and remain there happily for the rest of his life. The alternative lifestyle, combined with the types of landscapes that we see here with this Martinique Landscape, were enough to convince the artist to ultimately completely turn his back on his own French roots, although he was still living in parts of their extended empire at this stage. The artwork in front of us measures 117.00 x 89.80 cm and was presented to the Scottish institution who now display the piece by Sir Alexander Maitland.
The artist created a series of paintings whilst staying in this island in 1887, all of which were brightly coloured and expressively delivered. We do know from our biography that he first went to Panama before moving on to this stunning island in the Caribbean. He would return to France earlier than planned because of ill health but by that point the seed had already been sown in his mind, and he was always looking to return as soon as possible. As it turned out, he would head to Tahiti instead and eventually turn his back on western society completely. The artist still retained his connections within Paris in order to be able to sell some of the paintings that he produced whilst living elsewhere.