Paul Gauguin's Self-Portrait

1889, initialed 'P G' and dated l.l.
Oil on wood, overall: 79.2 x 51.3 cm (31 3/16 x 20 3/16 in.)
Chester Dale Collection, NGA 1963.10.150

This self portrait, done nine years before Delectable Waters, shows a bit of the melancholy and awareness of his contrary nature.

"He dressed bizarrely, wrote self-serving critiques of his work, courted the press and even handed out photographs of himself to his fans."

He wanted to be famous, and aimed towards that. "Paul Gauguin did not lack for confidence. I am a great artist, and I know it, he boasted in a letter in 1892 to his wife."

(Quotes from Smithsonian article, March 2011)

But prehaps it's best to let the artist speak:
"I believe life has no meaning unless one lives it with a will, at least to the limit of one's will. Virtue, good, evil are nothing but words, unless one takes them apart in order to build something with them; they do not win their true meaning until one knows how to apply them. To surrender oneself to the hands of one's Creator is to annul oneself and die."
"No one is good; no one is evil; everyone is both, in the same way and in different ways.[...] It is so small a thing, the life of a man, and yet there is time to do great things..."


From Gauguin's Intimate Journals, page 110