The painting features a young boy sitting on a woman's lap. Critics suggest that the boy in the image is Paul Gauguin's son, Emil, with Pahura, his lover from Tahiti. The woman holding the boy appears to be elderly and possibly the boy's grandmother. Next to the older woman sitting on a wooden chair, with the boy on her lap, is a younger girl. The girl is holding a cat in her arms and standing beside the woman's chair. Paul used this artwork as a recollection of the Virgin Mary, the oldest and most common Christian painting. The Virgin mary image features the Virgin mother of Christ with the baby boy Jesus and a young John the Baptist.
The background of the drawing is quite simple, with only one colour throughout. In this painting, Paul Gauguin stepped away from his creative use of contrasting colours, as seen in most of his works. The three characters in the image appear to be wearing typical Polenisian attires. The painting features an overall melancholic and haunting quality. Paul Gauguin was often inspired by the things in his environment and the images from his dreams. In the early 1900s, he painted several pieces depicting his time in Tahiti. In 1901, when he was making residing in the remote Pacific Island of Atuana, he was still reminiscing of Tahiti. Paul went to Atuana looking for inspiration for his next artwork; since he had not painted for a year, Tahiti remained his main inspiration. While he went to critics thought of the painting as representing Tahitian women and children or the typical Tahitian family minus the male figure.
Paul made several paintings featuring Tahitian characters and objects like the Nava Nava moe and Nava Nava Mohana. The Polynesian woman with children painting is currently located at the Chicago Art Institute. Before this, it was moved around different museums in France and various parts of the United States. According to art critics, the Polynesian woman with children is both a marvel and a mystery, as they are divided when it comes to who the people in the image are. However, several critics and art lovers agree that it is one of the best works by Paul Gauguin. His unique style and inspiration remain the best part of most of his works.