Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Nevermore, 1897
Oil on canvas
23 ¾ x 45 ½ in. (60.5 x 116 cm)
Samuel Courtauld Trust: Courtauld Gift, 1932


Painted in Tahiti, Nevermore shows a female figure in repose with two older women and a strange bird in the background. The older women’s role in the scene is ambiguous, but they seem to be conspiring against the younger reclining figure, likely modeled by Gauguin’s companion Pahura. The menacing bird and the title, Nevermore, inscribed in the upper left, both evoke Edgar Allan Poe’s narrative poem, The Raven – in which a poet, driven mad by the loss of his love, hears a raven endlessly repeating “Nevermore.” As in all of Gauguin’s work from this period, Nevermore represents a hybrid of various traditions, meant to evoke an overall sense of the “primitive.”
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