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Collecting Gauguin: Samuel Courtauld in the '20s

Collecting Gauguin: Samuel Courtauld in the '20s


The Courtauld Gallery holds the most important collection of works in the UK by the Post-Impressionist master Paul Gauguin (1841–1903). Assembled by the pioneering collector Samuel Courtauld (1876–1947), it includes major paintings and works on paper as well as one of only two marble sculptures ever created by the artist. This special Summer display presents the complete collection together with the loan of two important works by Gauguin formerly in Courtauld’s private collection: Martinique Landscape (Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh) and Bathers at Tahiti (The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham). Today, Gauguin is widely celebrated as one of the most important and popular artists of the 19th century. Collecting Gauguin offers an opportunity to consider the contribution of Samuel Courtauld in developing the artist’s reputation in this country.


In 1910, the critic Roger Fry organised his ground-breaking exhibition Manet and the Post-Impressionists, a major step in generating awareness of Gauguin in Britain. Fry included 37 works by Gauguin (more than by any other artist) and also chose a work by him for the poster, a rare surviving copy of which will be included in the display. Inspired by this exhibition, over the following decade the educationalist Michael Sadler (1861–1943) established the first substantial collection of works by Gauguin in this country. A small number of other individuals acquired single paintings, but Courtauld was the only other early collector to assemble a major group of works by Gauguin.


Collecting Gauguin is the first of a new series of special Summer displays which will showcase aspects of The Courtauld’s outstanding permanent collection.

  • By Karen Serres

    Paperback, 210 x 210 mm

    60 pages, 40 colour illus.
    ISBN: 978 1 907372 47 6

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