Portrait Vase of Mme. Schuffenecker
Paul Gauguin ( 1848 - 1903 )
- c. 1889–1890
It was most probably during 1889, when he was briefly living in his friend Emile Schuffenecker’s studio that Paul Gauguin completed Portrait Vase of Mme. Schuffenecker. Made at the height of his ceramic production, it is a fine example of the techniques he mastered under his mentor Ernest Chaplet’s watchful eye. After modeling the stoneware to fashion her thin elongated face, prominent cheekbones, and almond shaped eyes, he painted the vessel with white, pink, blue, green slip, then after firing, used gold paint to add details. In the vase, Madame Schuffenecker is depicted as a pale nude whose disembodied hand provocatively arranges a spotted hair ribbon that encircles her head to end in the pointed profile of a snake. At the base, he carved a floral decoration that includes a long serpent winding around a tree. That Gauguin depicted his loyal friend’s wife as a temptress and related her to Eve is not surprising given her rejections to his all-too-frequent advances that would eventually lead to the end of the friendship between Gauguin and the Schuffeneckers in 1891.
Martha MacLeod, DMA gallery text, 2015.