It was painted during Gauguin's first period in Tahiti, where he hoped to find new inspiration and to escape from the constraints of what he described as "artificial" life in Europe.
This early image from Tahiti is bursting with colour, emphasising the joy that Gauguin must have felt seeing the tropical vegetation and simple island life all around him.
Most of elements within the scene are concentrated in the background of the painting. The foreground is relatively empty, the path and the elongated palms take the viewer's eye up towards the mountain that dominates the background.
The technique used within this painting is termed cloisonnism. Gauguin uses simplified patches of bright colour with darker outlines to create the scene which appears quite flat.
While the mountains, sky and clouds are all recognizable, much of the detail has been removed or abstracted. Some of the flora and fauna is very simplified and just hinted at.
In the middle of the painting Gauguin has captured the daily activities of island life. A man, wearing a hat, walks along the path with a load carried across his shoulders, while a lone dog looks across. Gauguin's use of collarless dogs has been the subject of some interesting debate.
Some writers have suggested that the "collarless" dog represents Gauguin's own "primitive self". It is also known that Gauguin had his own pet dog, named Pego, on the island.
One of the most striking aspects of the painting is the use of bright yellows and oranges. Gauguin was particularly inspired by the tropical sun which he said "sets everything aglow around it". He appears to have captured that perfectly in this image.
Gauguin's work was underappreciated during his own lifetime yet he has inspired many. This particular painting is housed at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in Minnesota and is now recognized for the wonderful painting it truly is.