He found what he expected but his own living conditions were precarious. He pulled away from Papeete too dependent for his concern upon the French administration. In the countryside, he did not accept barter in a village community which had no monetary use. Close to misery, he could not acquire canvases and carved more than he himself had desired. This first stay had lasted two years, from 1891 to 1893.
The second stay began in 1895. He organized it better in order for it to be more sustainable and he worked more conveniently on his mystical themes animated by the figures of the Polynesians.
Gauguin admired the still life by Cézanne. He however executed very few still lifes during his first stay. A composition with fruits and chillies painted in Tahiti in 1892, 32 x 66 cm, was sold for $ 12.4 million including premium by Christie's on November 6, 2007.
A still life of mangos, oil on canvas 30 x 47 cm, was sold for £ 3.6 million including premium by Sotheby's in London on 20 June 2005. It comes back in the same auction room on June 24, lot 11 estimated £ 10M.
Undated, this painting was done during the first visit or, more likely, at the beginning of the second in 1895 or 1896. The extensive correspondence left by Gauguin leaves no doubt as to his intention: he practiced still life to keep cool between two mystic quests.
The angular composition is bold like a Cézanne, but the use of strong colors, deliberately exaggerated to reach the splendor while refusing to copy the nature, is similar as in Gauguin's landscapes. The displaying of mangos is a new challenge by the artist to the European civilization. It is not new in his art since he had already chosen this theme during his stay in Martinique in 1887.