ⓘ Nevermore (Gauguin)

Nevermore (Gauguin)

ⓘ Nevermore (Gauguin)

Nevermore is an 1897 painting in oil on canvas by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin which is in the collection of the Courtauld Institute of Art at Somerset House in the Strand, London. It was executed during the artists second stay on the island of Tahiti in the South Pacific.

The enigmatic work depicts a naked Pahura, Gauguins teenage vahine or wife, lying on a bed in their hut, her voluptuous figure echoed by the curves of the headboard. In the background behind the bed can be seen a raven and two mysterious human figures.

The title "Nevermore", painted in relatively large capitals in the top left-hand corner, and the presence of the raven is an obvious reference to Edgar Allan Poes poem "The Raven", which was well known to Gauguin and recited at his farewell party in 1891. In the poem a mourning student is visited in his room by a raven which croaks the one word "nevermore" in response to his every question. At the time the painting was executed Pahura was grieving the loss of her first child by Gauguin and Gauguin the loss of his favourite European-born daughter Aline. The artist himself claimed the bird represented a "bird of the devil who watches".

The painting was later purchased in 1898 by the British composer Frederick Delius from Gauguins friend George-Daniel de Monfreid for 500 francs.