Gauguin blamed the Catholics for their hypocritical opposition to sexual freedom and rejoiced about the weaknesses of the prelates. He purchased a piece of land to the local bishop to build his home which he decorated as a temple to pornography under the complacently inscribed name Maison du Jouir (House of orgasm). He bought a young vahine, achieving to generate the total exasperation of the missionaries.
This exiled artist has humor. The best exhibition place in the Maison du Jouir is the door, visible from outside. Around August 1902, Gauguin installs two statues made by him in rosewood in native style. The man, Père Paillard (Father Debauchery), is a caricature of the bishop as a horned devil. The woman, Thérèse, is inspired by the gossip that the servant of the bishop was also his mistress.
On this phallic shaped statue 66 cm high, Thérèse is a nice woman, naked except for a loincloth. With her oversized head increasing her expressive feature, she is a transposition of primitive art to a Western subject. Although the intention of the artist was purely local, appealing beside him the laughers of Atuona, this artwork anticipates the interpretation of African and Oceanian figures by the artists of the twentieth century.
Thérèse is estimated $ 18M for sale by Christie's in New York on November 9, lot 5A. Its pendant Père Paillard is kept at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
SOLD for $ 31M including premium