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The Loss of Virginity (also known as The Awakening of Spring), Oil On Canvas by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903, France)
This painting was produced in Paris in the brief period when Gauguin was interested in Symbolism. It depicts a Breton landscape with a naked young woman lying in the foreground. Behind her, a fox, the symbol of lust in Hindu mythology, can be seen. In the background, a wedding procession in Breton costumes is approaching the nude.
This was Gauguin's last major work produced before he left for Tahiti at the beginning of April 1891. Although it depicts a Breton scene - the figures in the background are often thought to be an ironical depiction of a wedding party - the work was produced in Paris, using Gauguin's 20-year old mistress, Juliette Huet, whom he left pregnant with his child when he went to Tahiti. The obvious precedent for the reclining female nude was Manet's Olympia, which had finally been bought by the French state.
The work is a deliberate attempt at a symbolist painting, produced to appeal to the literary figures who were Gauguin's main supporters at this time. As such, the work is rather laboured in its use of symbolism, in which rather than creating a mood as was more customary, Gauguin has proceeded by a series of easily discernible visual clues. The fox, for example, with his hand on the woman's breast, is both demonic and lubricious, and the red-tipped cyclamen is a reference to the girl's recent defloration.
Oil On Canvas
Oil On Canvas