Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903), Martinique, 1887
oil on canvas,
54.5 cm x 65.5 cm
Zoom in on the river and it’s clear how Gauguin achieved his extraordinary colour effects here. He painted tiny streaks of paint in blue, red and (by mixing the two) purple. Viewed from a distance, they blend together to produce warm tones.
Van Gogh swapped two of his own paintings of sunflowers for this painting. Through exchanges like this, he hoped to build an art collection together with his brother Theo. In a letter to his sister Willemien, Vincent described the landscape as ‘a dried-up river with purple mud’.