The Fire at the River Bank

Paul Gauguin

Hoguera junto a una ría

Gauguin, Paul

París, 1848 - Atuona, Islas Marquesas, 1903

The Fire at the River Bank, 1886

© Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza

Signed & dated lower left: ''Paul Gauguin 86''.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Oil on canvas

60 x 38 cm

CTB.1993.4

Artwork history

  • Dr. Walter Müller, Zurich, c. 1931

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, London, Lot 36, June 22,  1993

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collections

1996

De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 71, p. 188

1996 - 1997

From Zurbaran to Picasso. Masterpieces from the Collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Shanghai, Shanghai Museum; Pekín, China National Art Gallery, p. 110

1997

Capolavori dalla Collezione di Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza: 60º anniversario dell'apertura della Pinacotecca di Villa Favorita, Lugano, Villa Favorita, n. 97, p. 248

1997

Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, n. 45, p. 156

1998

Paul Gauguin, Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, n. 22, pp. 73, 218

1999

Do impresionismo ó fauvismo: A pintura do cambio de século en París. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, n. 24, p. 78

1999 - 2000

Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Barcelona, Centre Cultural Caixa Catalunya, p. 106

2000

Del post-impresionismo a las vanguardias. Pintura de comienzos del siglo XX en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, n. 5, p. 36.

2000 - 2001

La Révolte de la couleur. De l'impressionnisme aux Avant-gardes. Chefs-d'oeuvre de la Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruselas, Musée d'Ixelles, n. 15, p. 56

2002

Il trionfo del colore. Collezione Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Monet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Kandinsky, Roma, Palazzo Ruspoli, p. 156

2004 - 2005

Gauguin y los orígenes del simbolismo, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Sala de las Alhajas, n. 19, p. 129

2012 - 2013

Rusiñol, Monet, Gauguin, Sunyer. El paisaje en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Gerona, CaixaForum; Tarragona, CaixaForum; Lérida, CaixaForum, n. 35, p. 122, lám. p. 123. (solo Lérida)

2013 - 2014

Courbet, Van Gogh, Monet, Léger. Del paisaje naturalista a las vanguardias en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, n. 28, p. 112, lám. p. 113

2017

Un món ideal: De Van Gogh a Gauguin i Vasarely. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols. p. 48, 49, 144, 145, 178 y 179.

  • -Cogniat, R. y Rewald, J.: Paul Gauguin. Carnet de croquis. París, 1961, p. 25, lám.

  • -Wildenstein, Georges: Gauguin. París, Les Beaux Arts, 1964. L’Art Français; vol. 1: Catalogue , n. 193, p. 71, lám.

  • -Sugana, G. M.: L’opera completa di Gauguin. Milán, Rizzoli, 1972. Classici dell’arte; vol. 61, n. 33, p. 88, lám.

  • -Sotheby’s: Impressionist and modern paintings, drawings and sculpture, part I. [Auction Cat.]. London June 22, 1993 , p. 40, lám.

  • -De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. [Exhib. Cat. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza]. Llorens Serra, Tomàs (ed.). Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1996 , n. 71, p. 188 (listed as “Orilla de río, campesinos alrededor de un fuego”). [Sheet by Ronald Pickvance]

  • -Wildenstein, Daniel: Gauguin. Premier itinéraire d’un sauvage. Catalogue de l’oeuvre peint (1873-1888). Crussard, Sylvie y Heudron, Martine. Milan, Skira – París, Wildenstein Institute, 2001 , vol. 1, n. 211, p. 254-255, lám.

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 82, lám. p. 83 [Sheet by Ronald Pickvance]

  • -Solana, Guillermo: ”El despertar del fauno. Gauguin y el retorno de lo pastoral”.  Madrid 2004-2005. pp. 14-63, cit. p. 28.

  • -Solana, Guillermo: Gauguin y los orígenes del simbolismo. [Exhib. Cat. 2004-2005]. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Fundación Caja Madrid, 2004.

  • -Rusiñol, Monet, Gauguin, Sunyer. El paisaje en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Gerona, CaixaForum; Tarragona, CaixaForum; Lérida, CaixaForum, 2012, n. 35, p. 122, lám. p. 123. ( Lérida)[Exhib. Cat.]

  • -Courbet, Van Gogh, Monet, Léger. Del paisaje naturalista a las vanguardias en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2013, n. 28, p. 112, lám. p. 113. [Exhib. Cat.]

  • -Un món ideal: De Van Gogh a Gauguin i Vasarely. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols. p. 48, 49, 144, 145, 178 y 179. [Sheet by Ronald Pickvance]. [Exhib. Cat.]

Expert report

Certain pictures readily conform to the prevailing view of an artist’s oeuvre at a particular moment in his career. Others-odd-ones out, so to say-strike a different note from the usually accepted view: eccentric and nonconformist. Our conception of Gauguin in Pont-Aven in 1886-his first visit to Brittany-is dominated by landscapes of the locality whose “Breton-ness” is not unduly exaggerated. An unspoilt, pastoral ambience could be mistaken for a rural idyll, especially when, in introducing figures, Gauguin presents us with picturesquely costumed young women of Pont-Aven.

This strange, almost malevolent painting has acquired a rather misleading title. The landscape element does not immediately and unequivocally proclaim a Pont-Aven provenance. A hillside declines to the bank of a river, on which the masts of two sail-boats can be discerned, with a glimpse of the far bank, and just a little sky. And rather than the quaintly costumed Bretonnes, all the actors in this enigmatic drama are male. Men whose caps, at least in three instances, suggest douaniers are gathered around mysterious fires that burn not far from the river’s bank. In a sketchbook used by Gauguin in Brittany in 1886 is a sequence of five consecutive pages in which highly schematic drawings of douaniers and other male figures can be seen-as well as a skeletal compositional sketch. Several of these hastily executed figures reappear in the painting. The adapted Impressionist morphology of brushstroke and colour articulation typifies Gauguin’s style during his three months’ stay in Pont-Aven. In that respect, the painting qua painting conforms to our expectations. What was thematically aberrant (a cause of contraband?) turns out to be stylistically conformist.

Ronald Pickvance