A Paul Gauguin Case Study:

Gauguin Watercolour - 2 Tahitian Women


   Paul Gauguin's artistic career spanned six full decades and his output during his Tahitian period particularly, was spurred on by the voracious demand for saleable product by his French patron Ambroise Vollard. The leading Parisian art dealer of the early twentieth century, he was the main career mentor behind Cezanne, Picasso and Maillol and this demand for artistic product, even for Paul Gauguin, was very taxing.

 Authenticating Gauguin and his art is sometimes much more difficult than was in this very simple case we were asked to look into.

A believed to be real Paul Gauguin watercolour, depicting two Tahitian women & signed unmistakably bottom right with the name Paul Gauguin.




<  Now, if ever this painting had any chance to be an authentic Gauguin watercolour, then obviously it would have originated from within Gauguin's creative period somewhere between 1890 and 1900.

That's when Gauguin was working and living in the Polynesian islands of Tahiti.


 The number of paintings Paul Gauguin painted of Tahitian girls wearing the red floral Ti motif on a sarong, is much more than just a few and whilst on first inspection it is easy for some to think, for Paul Gauguin, this painting is just not good enough to be by him, there are times when art authentication experts might have to actually prove the issue of authenticity either way, not just pass an opinion on it.



A Gauguin fake it may be, but it could just 'perhaps' be argued as an authentic work by Gauguin? Some would try!


So let's look at why this Paul Gauguin watercolour on the left is not and 'could not' be  genuine.

Interestingly, information comes by applying some simple logic and a slightly different approach to a Gauguin fake.


> On the right, the paper on which we are lead to believe Paul Gauguin painted these two Tahitian women [above]

 Where the red arrow (above) points to on the fake Gauguin watercolour painting, is a thicker area of paint in which some residue, in the form of two tiny pieces of paint brush hair were found. Upon further inspection under the microscope, some interesting features can be seen! [Below]


 Synthetic, smooth surfaced filaments, as photographed when found in the purported Paul Gauguin painting above are used in paintbrushes. They in turn are produced when they are manufactured by the process of extrusion.

This gives them the regular, tubular, glassy appearance and not the 'thick to thin' more conical and 'scaly' form of a natural animal hair, such as the traditionally preferred artists brush which is made from sable or squirrel hair.


 This type of polymer is also a product of the sixties and not the 1860's or the 1890's, but the 1960's. So our friend Mr. Gauguin could not have possibly painted this picture even on a bad day.

He sadly died sixty years earlier than it's creation.




Forensic photograph detail of Paul Gauguin fake watercolour,

embedded residual paint brush hairs

^The addition of a fake Paul Gauguin signature to the watercolour.

 The Paul Gauguin signature (above) taken from the fake watercolour drawing, shows clear constructional differences, compared to the image of a legitimate Paul Gauguin signature to the right which are self evident, even to a nonexpert eye.

You will also see where hesitations in creating the flow of a letters have doubled up the paint layers. The small  'g' for instance. This is indicative of someone checking what they are copying, hesitating for just a split second.




 Clearly the Paul Gauguin painting we examined was not by Gauguin himself. This fact right from the start was evident to us and will also be to most of you.  Frankly, the quality of the painting, the application of watercolour to the paper and the actual drawing itself, leaves much to be desired and bears an amateur, untrained and not a well practised approach.  But not necessarily so to a nonexpert eye.

That was the case when the client bought this fake Gauguin work to us, obviously believing it to be real. For them it was absolutely real and couldn't possibly be a fake.

An all too common situation where a heart simply got the better of the heads judgement and the simple question, "is it good enough to be by Paul Gauguin," was never even contemplated ?














Pau;l Gauguin Fake. A case study of the examination of a signed watercouour believed to be by Gauguin.
Freemanart Consultancy.

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Gauguin Fake Case Study || Two Tahitian Women || Authentication Investigations