Gauguin, Paul: Early Life

Gauguin spent the first six years of his life with his family in Lima Peru; as an adolescent he was a sailor in the French merchant navy, then a successful stockbroker in Paris. In 1874 he began to paint on weekends. By the age of 35, with the encouragement of Camille Pissarro, he devoted himself completely to his art, having given up his position and separated (1885) from his wife and five children. Allying himself with the Impressionists (see impressionism, in painting), he exhibited with them from 1879 to 1886. The next year he sailed for Panama and Martinique. In protest against the disease of civilization, he determined to live primitively, but illness forced him to return to France. The next years were spent in Paris and Brittany, with a brief but tragic stay with Van Gogh at Arles.

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