When The Card Players by Paul Cezanne was sold for a whopping $250 million, not many though there was going to be another art piece which would break that record in the immediate future. However, four years on, Paul Gaugin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo (interpreted as When Will You Marry?) was sold for a record-breaking $300 million.
When Will You Marry? is an oil painting from 1892 by French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Gaugin. It was sold privately by the family of Rudolf Staechelin to Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani in February 2015 for about $300 million, making it the most expensive painting ever sold. Before the sale of the artwork, it was on loan to the Kunstmuseum in Basel for close to fifty years.
Paul Gaugin’s “When Will You Marry?” is a brightly colored combination of different colors- blue, red, yellow and green. It depicts two Haitian women sitting on the ground with a diverse landscape of trees, water and mountains behind them. The two women look in different directions, although neither seems to be staring at the viewer. The image of both women appears to depict a clash of cultures, with the woman at the foreground embodying the free-spiritedness and liberation synonymous with the Haitian culture. On the other hand, the woman at the background is styled in western attire and her prim and proper pose represents the antithesis of the free-spiritedness of the other lady’s pose. The woman at the background seems to glance at the other woman with a look of condescension and disapproval. Behind the two women, in the distance, two figures stand, although it is unclear who they are or what their purpose may be.
This record breaking changed the perception of Paul Gaugin from the slightly cold and un-engaging character to wide acclaim as one of the pioneers of modern art. Gaugin has over time been acknowledged as the father of several modernism adventures. Gaugin settled in the Pacific for a while, immersing himself entirely in the culture of Tahiti and its women. Like most artists, Gaugin received little recognition for his talent when alive, and he died in 1903 at the age of 54 from a morphine overdose.
Gaugin was a significant influence on several 20th-century greats including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, and Henri Matisse.