But on reaching there, he realised that Tahiti was just as cosmopolitan as France, and colonisation had left its mark on the place and its culture. Nafea Faaipoipo was painted during his first trip to Tahiti.
The background of the picture is in green and yellow, while the mountains at the back are in blue. Two women are depicted in the picture. The one in the front is dressed in traditional Tahitian garb and is leaning forward eagerly.
The white flower behind her ear is considered to mean that she is looking for a husband, and hence the name of the picture. The second woman is in a high-necked European dress and is sitting straight.
Her attitude is supposedly indicating a warning or threat. It is believed that Tehamana, who was Gauguin’s lover at the time, might have modelled for this painting.
Gauguin included this painting in his exhibition in Paris held in 1893. The event, held at the Galerie Durand-Ruel, showed the price for this picture at 1,500 Francs, showing how much in esteem Gauguin held this particular work.
However, Parisians did not share his enthusiasm and Nafea Faaipoipo only received very mediocre reviews, and did not sell.
But like with other Gauguin paintings, Nafea Faaipoipo’s worth was understood after his death. The painting was eventually sold and changed hands a few times.
It hung at the Kunstmuseum in Switzerland on loan from the Staechelin family for five decades, but was recently sold to Qatar for $300 million USD. Gauguin certainly valued his painting properly, even if no one else did!
Paul Gauguin was a French painter, who worked during the late 19th century. He was an important figure in French art of the period and acted as an inspiration to painters like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.