#FineArtFriday:The Alyscamps, or The Three Graces at the Temple of Venus by Paul Gauguin 1888


Artist: Paul Gauguin (1848–1903)

Title:  (English)The Alyscamps, or The Three Graces at the Temple of Venus

French: French: Les Alyscamps, ou Les Trois grâces au temple de Venus

Date: 1888

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: height: 91.6 cm (36 in); width: 72.5 cm (28.5 in)

Collection: Musée d’Orsay

What I love about this painting:

Color! I love the vivid colors contrasted against the pale sky. The Three Graces in classical mythology are the goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity, goodwill, and fertility. They have come to symbolize faith, hope, and charity.

The traditional mythology Paul Gauguin explores in this composition demonstrates his early education and his appreciation of classical art. Before he became an artist, he was both a stockbroker and an art dealer/collector.

Although he never trained formally, Gauguin is known for his use of bold colors, simplified forms, and strong lines. This painting is a prime example of his study of form and color.

The eye is drawn to the vertical lines of the temple standing tall on the hill behind the figures. They are also depicted with a sense of height, and the hills beyond are tall and narrow.

A calm stream flows from beneath the temple, the river of time. The three women stand almost in the background, yet impressive, observing as time passes them. They are as strong and unmovable as the rocky hills and the temple.

Gauguin tells us that time may pass, and things may change, but the Temple of Venus rises above it all. Does this Temple of Venus represent “agape,” a love that is selfless and unconditional? A kind of love that is spiritual in nature? Paul Gauguin was a complicated man, conflicted and tormented by the contrasts of morality and the realities of his life.

Who knows what that temple meant to him on the day he created it, but either way, Gauguin’s Three Graces, Faith, Hope, and Charity stand almost in the shadows, offering him comfort. They are as solid as the mountains and eternal as time. And who is the dark, mysterious fourth who peers over their shoulder?

Paul Gauguin lived an eventful life. For a wonderful documentary on the man and his life, go to:

Why Is Gauguin So Controversial? (Waldemar Januszczak Documentary) | Perspective – YouTube

Also, check out Paul Gauguin – Wikipedia.

Credits and Attributions:

Image: Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Paul Gauguin 085.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Paul_Gauguin_085.jpg&oldid=710795058 (accessed April 6, 2023).


Filed under #FineArtFriday

7 responses to “#FineArtFriday:The Alyscamps, or The Three Graces at the Temple of Venus by Paul Gauguin 1888

  1. What an unusual painting. It caught my attention. There’s a dream-like quality to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the colourful painting, too, Connie. And the vertical is also enhanced by the yellow weeping tree that takes up much of the canvas.
    Somehow, although in the middle distance, the three figures seem to have a presence that dominates. How did he do that?
    I wonder if it’s because of their dark clothes amid such colour?

    Liked by 1 person