Breton Women Standing by a Fence


Paul Gauguin ( 1848 - 1903 )

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General Description

Breton women in characteristic white headdresses stand beside a rickety wood fence. A more distant Breton sits beside a cow and goose. Paul Gauguin found the refreshingly primitive agricultural society of Brittany's countryside inspiration for new artistic conventions. In this print, Gauguin folds the distant rolling hills into two vertical planes bedecked by smudges of trees and fence lines. The distinct contrasts between light and dark, like the seated girl's bonnet and dress, function as elements of the composition and do not reflect the natural play of light. By drawing his image on a grainy zinc plate, Gauguin's lines are coarser than traditional limestone lithographs and thus well-suited for the rustic theme of peasant women outdoors.

This image is one of Gauguin's first efforts at printmaking. He executed a series of eleven prints for an exhibition at Café Volpini, right outside the entrance to the Paris Exposition Universelle.

Adapted from

Brittany Luberda, DMA label copy, 2010.

Fun Facts

  • The Dallas Museum of Art owns two paintings of Breton women by Emile Bernard, Bridge at Pont-Aven (1992.27) and Breton Women Attending a Pardon (1963.34).

Web Resources

  • Guggenheim, New York
    Read a biography of Paul Gauguin from the Guggenheim.

  • Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon~ Check out a painting of a pardon in Brittany by Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret created around the same time as Gauguin's depiction.