Portland Art Museum Shows Donated Gauguin Painting

The Portland Art Museum announced its latest acquisition, an 1884 canvas, Vue d’un jardin, Rouen (Garden View, Rouen) by Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903). The painting is from Gauguin’s Impressionist period and depicts the corner of a walled garden in early spring.

The Portland Art Museum is the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest on the West Coast. An active collecting institution dedicated to preserving great art for the enrichment of future generations, the Museum devotes 90 percent of its gallery space to its permanent collection.

Longtime Museum patron and trustee Melvin “Pete” Mark gave the gift in memory of his wife, Mary Kridel Mark. For more than 20 years, the Marks have supported the Museum by serving on the Board of Trustees and chairing three capital campaigns, and through the contribution of art and generous financial support. Mary Mark passed away on September 4, 2008 and Pete Mark presented the painting to the Museum on May 3, 2009 which would have been their 58th wedding anniversary.

“It was Pete and Mary’s wish that this painting be a gift to the people of our region. The Museum is grateful for their generosity and vision,” said Brian Ferriso, the Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr. director. “Vue d’un jardin, Rouen brings a major painting into the story of modernism as told in the Museum’s permanent collection galleries.”

Gauguin began his career in the sway of the Impressionist movement and under the tutelage of Camille Pissarro. “The Vue d’un jardin is executed in quick, thin brushstrokes typical of this period when Gauguin consolidated his practice as a painter and established his formal vocabulary,” noted Chief Curator Bruce Guenther.

Painted the same year as the Museum’s Charrette de boeuf (The Ox-Cart) by Vincent Van Gogh, this work illuminates a parallel stage in Gauguin’s life in which he sought to forge his identity as an artist and a modernist.

The painting was previously on view in the Museum’s 2003 exhibition, Paris to Portland. This gift adds a major oil painting to a group of later Gauguin woodcuts and original artist book illustrations already in the Museum’s permanent collection, which includes the largest holdings of Impressionist and Post-impressionist works in the Northwest region.

The Marks found the painting in a Parisian gallery, and both liked it without even knowing who the artist was. After learning it was painted by Gauguin, the couple decided that it had to come home to Portland, and might eventually be an important addition to the Museum’s collection. They contacted Richard R. Brettell, the chair of art and aesthetics at the University of Texas at Dallas, and one of the foremost authorities on Impressionism. Dr. Brettell provided them with affirmation of the importance of the painting in the artist’s body of work and encouraged them to make the purchase.

In addition to Paris to Portland, the painting was also featured in the Kimbell Art Museum’s 2005 exhibition, Gauguin and Impressionism, curated by Dr. Brettell and Anne-Birgitte Fonsmark. This exhibition was the first comprehensive survey of Gauguin’s early career and a landmark exhibition in defining the artist’s development for American audiences.

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