Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903), Le Pouldu, 1889
oil on plaster,
135 cm x 62 cm
Credits: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
This Breton girl was once part of a series of decorative murals. Paul Gauguin painted her in Le Pouldu in Brittany: ‘in the inn where we eat’.
Writing to his friend Van Gogh, Gauguin called the girl ‘a peasant woman spinning at the sea’s edge’. (The spindle hangs from her hand on a thread that is now almost invisible.) He described the whole painting, down to the cow in the background. Oddly enough, though, his letter doesn’t mention the angel overhead. We don’t know exactly what he meant by it. Joan of Arc was traditionally portrayed this way, because of her vision of the Archangel Michael.