Paul Gauguin: "Agony in the Garden".

Essay by violetas77College, UndergraduateA+, December 2005

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Paul Gauguin's "Agony in the Garden" was painted in 1889 at a pivotal point in his career, while living among the peasants in Le Pouldu, Brittany. The piece is displayed upon the works of other European painters and is painted in oil on canvas, measuring 28 by 36 inches. Paul Gauguin's pieces can be refereed to the paintings of Post Impressionist's. Not satisfied with the spontaneous painting of the Impressionist's, Post Impressionist's returned to careful compositions, the deliberate arranging of colors as well as forms. Unquestionably one of Gauguin's masterpieces, Agony in the Garden, shows his close tie with Christianity, a belief many thought was inexistent in his life, and his superb use of color demonstrates his bold artistic innovations, which served to heighten symbolic and emotional impact in many of his paintings.

What is interesting in itself is the direct use of the title "Agony in the Garden", with numerous precedents in the history of art; the theme of agony in the garden typically represents Christ after the Last Supper and immediately before his betrayal by Judas Iscariot and his arrest by the Roman soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane.

(1) "Agony" (from the Greek agon, or conflict) refers to the struggle within Christ as he grapples with the divine and the human sides of his nature. (1) Here we find Gauguin's further use of symbolism as the work itself depicts his own self-portrait in the form of the figure Christ. This seems to personalize the grief and suffering of the Son of God to his own self. Like Christ, who was betrayed by his disciples, Gauguin felt his efforts as an artist were unappreciated by the world. He even wrote " That's my portrait I've done there...but it also goes to represent the...