Paul Gauguin, Two Marquesans, a monotype

Tahiti, AD 1902

A monotype print that Gauguin traced from the reverse

In 1891 Gauguin (1848-1903) left France for Tahiti and the Marquesas, having abandoned his family, his job as a stockbroker, and what he called 'the disease of civilization'. Forced to experiment through lack of traditional printing facilities on these islands, he devised the technique of the traced monotype. He described his monotype process:

'First you roll out printer's ink on a sheet of paper of any sort; then lay a second sheet on top of it and draw whatever pleases you. The harder and thinner your pencil (as well as your paper), the finer will be the resulting line.'

These two heads are closely related to a late painting of Gauguin's entitled Les Amants (1902). The composition is derived from sketches that he had made of Delacroix's Naufrage de Don Juan (1840). The textural effects of these 'printed drawings' have been much employed by later artists such as Paul Klee, who have appreciated the way that the ink is irregularly picked up by the pressure on the back of the sheet so as to give a mottled line.

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More information


J. Rowlands, Master drawings and watercolou (London, The British Museum Press, 1984)

, The Painterly print: monotypes (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980)

R.S. Field, Paul Gauguin: monotypes (Philadelphia, 1973)

, The art of Paul Gauguin (Washington, National Gallery of Art, 1998)


Height: 321.000 mm
Width: 509.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1968-2-10-31


Bequeathed by César Mange de Hauke


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