Portrait of the Artist with the Idol

Maker and role
Artist: Paul Gauguin, French, 1848-1903
ca. 1893
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Object detail

Oil on canvas
17 1/4 x 12 7/8in (43.8 x 32.7cm)
Credit line
Bequest of Marion Koogler McNay
Accession number
Object type
Further information
Gauguin described his own face as that "of a savage," and in his many self-portraits, he made no attempt to soften that image. Here his striped shirt and polka-dot tie vividly represent the bohemian who had thrown off his once conventional life as a stockbroker.

While Gauguin's clothes suggest a climate colder than the South Seas, the painting is thought to date from the end of his first trip to Tahiti. During his time there, Gauguin studied ancient Polynesian deities. The figure of an idol that appears behind his left shoulder represents the goddess Hina, a symbol of happiness, calm, and peace.
Gauguin, Cézanne; 1907; p. 6; no. 16
Vasárnapi Ujság (Sunday Night); May 26, 1907, p. 426
Der Querschnitt; Vol. 4, 1924, p. V, 384
Paul Gauguin; Wilhelm Barth; 1929
The New York Times; Apr 19, 1931, p. 10; Book Review
ARTnews; Vol. 29, no. 33, May 16, 1931, p. 87-88, 108
Paul Gauguin: The Calm Madman; Beril Becker; 1931; p. 248
French Masters of the XIX and XX Century: The Private Collection of Josef Stransky; 1935
Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903: A Retrospective Loan Exhibition; 1936
Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903; Fogg Museum; 1936
Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903: A Retrospective Exhibition of his Paintings, May 24 to June 5, 1936; 1936; no.26
Catalog of Paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists: The Toledo Museum of Art, November 7th to December 12th, 1937; 1937; no.11
Gauguin; John Rewald (b.1912, d.1994); 1938; p. 38
Gauguin; Maurice Malingue; 1943; no. 100
Gauguin; Raymond Cogniat (b.1896, d.1977); 1947; no. 85
Paul Gauguin: der Meister von Tahiti; Lee Van Dovski; 1947; no. 3
Gauguin, Le Peintre et son Oeuvre; Maurice Malingue; 1948; no. 196
Paul Gauguin oder die Flucht vor der Zivilisation; Lee Van Dovski; 1948; no. 24/313
Paul Gauguin: His Place in the Meeting of East and West: Museum of Fine Arts of Houston, March 27th- April 25th, 1954; 1954; no. 34
Fort Worth Star-Telegram; May 8, 1955
Arts Magazine; Nov, 1957; vol. 32, no. 2; p. 30
Fifty Paintings from Fifty Texas Collections; 1957; no.16
Gauguin: Paintings, Drawings, Prints, Sculpture: Art Institute of Chicago; 1959; p. 20, 55
Paul Gauguin; 1960; no. 60, illus. no. 37
Cent Oeuvres de Gauguin; Raymond Nacenta; 1960; no. 121
Artorama Presents Modern French Art, Monticelli to Picasso; 1960
Gauguin; René Huyghe (b.1906, d.1997); 1961; frontispiece
The Outline and the Dot: Two Aspects of Post-Impressionism; 1962
Gauguin; Georges Wildenstein; 1964; 415
Summer Art Festival--Twentieth Century Masters: Modern French Masters, German Expressionists, Modern American Masters; 1964; cover
Marc Chagall; Franz Meyer; 1964; p. 58, 71
Gauguin and the Decorative Style; 1966
Paul Gauguin; Raymond Charmet (b.1904, d.1973); 1966; p.19
Gauguin; Giuseppe Marchiori (b.1901, d.1982); 1967; no. 34
75 Masterworks: An Exhibition of Paintings in honor of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Portland Art Association: 1892-1967; 1967; no. 69
Lust for Life: The Story of Vincent van Gogh; Irving Stone (b.1903, d.1989); 1967
Paul Gauguin: Self Portraits; Kuno Mittelstädt; 1968; p. 18, 64; no. 28
Horizon; Vol XI, no. 3 (Summer 1969);
Gauguin and Exotic Art; Bengt Danielsson (b.1921, d.1997); 1969; no. 2
The World of the Impressionists: The Artists Who Painted with Delight in Being Alive.; Hans Jaffé (b.1915, d.1984); 1969; no. 66
Dictionnaire des Arts; Pierre Cabanne (b.1921, d.2007); 1971; p. 42
World Cultures and Modern Art; Siegfried Wichmann (b.1921, d.2015); 1972; p. 436, 442; no. 1707
Paseo del Rio; July 1972, p. 4
Noa Noa e il Primo Viaggio a Tahiti di Gauguin; Elda Fezzi (b.1930); 1974; frontispiece, no. 257
Modern Masters, Manet to Matisse; William Lieberman (b.1923, d.2005); 1975; p. 210-11
Paul Gauguin in the Context of Symbolism; Vojtěch Jirat-Wasiutyński; 1978
Paul Gauguin; Per Amann; 1980; p. 72
Paradise Reviewed: An Interpretation of Gauguin's Polynesian Symbolism; Jehanne Teilhet-Fisk (b.1939, d.2002); 1983; no. 269
Noa Noa: Gauguin's Tahiti; Nicholas Wadley; 1985; p. 120-21
Collecting: A Texas Phenomenon; 1986; title page, p. 74; no. 3
Vogue; May, 1988; p. 290-93
Gauguin in Tahiti: The First Journey; Günter Metken (b.1928, d.2000); 1992; no. 1
Inside Art: Culture, History, Expression, Book 2; Rebecca Brooks; 1992; p. 94; fig. 7.12
Artforms: An Introduction to the Visual Arts; Duane Preble; 1994; p. 402
La Muse d'Oltremare; Maria Messina; 1994
Paul Gauguin; Linda Costantino; 1994; p. 85
Cultural Atlas of Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific; Richard Nile (b.1958); 1996; p. 120
Paul Gauguin Tahiti; Christoph Becker; 1998; p. 22; no. 16
Gauguin; Ronald Pickvance (b.1930, d.2017); 1998; p. 290; no. 113
Paul Gauguin von der Bretagne nach Tahiti ein Aufbruch zur Moderne; 2000; p. 156; no. 4
Modern Art at the McNay: A Brief History and Pictorial Survey of the Collection; William J. Chiego; 2001; 48
Van Gogh Museum Journal; Van Gogh-Gauguin Symposium, 2003, p. 48; fig. 6
Gauguin's Vision; Belinda Thomson (b.1953); 2005; p. 105-106; fig. 121
Artworks: Art for Upper Secondary; Prisca Ko Hak Moi; 2007; p. 22; no. 2.15
The Symbolism of Paul Gauguin: Erotica, Exotica, and the Great Dilemmas of Humanity; Henri Dorra (b.1924, d.2002); 2007; p. 152; no. 70
From the Private Collections of Texas: European Art, Ancient to Modern; Richard Brettell (b.1949); 2009; p. 344; fig. 1
Gauguin: Maker of Myth; Belinda Thomson (b.1953); 2010; p. 73; no. 16
The Sunday Times; Aug 22, 2010; [cover]
London Times; Oct 2-3, 2010, p. 11
Gauguin: Metamorphoses; 2014; fig. 18; no. 50
Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist; Gloria Groom; 2017; frontispiece, 81, 238, 246, 247
Le Figaro; Oct 2017; p. 56
Gauguin: L'alchimiste; 2017; p. 187, 292-293; no. 278
Lost Heritage: Hungarian Art Collectors in the Twentieth Century; Péter Molnos; 2018; p. 378-79
Gauguin Portraits; Cornelia Homburg, Christopher Riopelle; 2019; p. 45, 47; no. 21
Gauguin: A Retrospective; Marla Prather (b.1956); 1987; p. 202
Gauguin; Belinda Thomson (b.1953); 1987
The New York Times
Signature & date
Signed u.r.: PGO
Docent information sheet
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Nemzeti Szalon 1907.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Vasarnapi Ujsag Sunday Night Review 1907.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Der Querschnitt 1924.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\NYT Book Review 1931.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\The Private Collection of Josef Stransky.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Private Collection of Josef Stransky 1935.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Malingue Gauguin 1943.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin - Cogniat 1947.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.47 Gauguin\Gauguin - Der Meister von Tahiti.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin - Malingue 1948.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin oder Die Flucht 1948.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin East West 1954.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Fort Worth Star Telegram 1955.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Fifty Paintings from Fifty TX Collections 1957.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin Haus der Kunst 1960.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Lust for Life 1967.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Mittelstadt - Paul Gauguin Self Portraits 1968.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin and Exotic Art 1969.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\The World of the Impressionists 1969.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Paseo del Rio 1971.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Noa Noa 1974.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin's Self Portraits and the Oviri 1979.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Small Paintings of the Masters 1980.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Collecting - A Texas Phenomenon 1986.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin Retrospective 1987.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin in Tahiti - The First Journey 1992.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Inside Art 1992.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin Costantino 1994.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Cultural Atlas of Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific 1996.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Paul Gauguin Tahiti 1998.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin Pickvance 1998.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Paul Gauguin von der Bretagne 2000.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Authentic Gauguins Van Gogh Museum Journal 2003.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin's Vision 2005.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Artworks - Art for Upper Secondary 2007.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\The Symbolism of Paul Gauguin 2007.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Collections of Texas 2009.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin Maker of Myth 2010.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Sunday Times Cover 2010.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Proud Dreamer London Times 2010.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin L'Alchimiste 2017.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\Gauguin Portraits 2019.pdf
V:\Object Documentation\Paintings\1950.46 Gauguin\NYT Book Review 2019.pdf


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