The itinerant life of French artist Paul Gauguin can tell us a lot more about this Post-Impressionist artist than just location, location, location. Truly a gifted man, we are happy to admire his work, but would we want to invite him over as a house guest? Maybe not.
The following guide may illuminate more than the mythologized wanderer in search of an authentic primitive lifestyle.
Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin is born in Paris on June 7 to French journalist Clovis Gauguin (1814-1851) and Aline Maria Chazal, who was of Franco-Spanish origin. He is the youngest of the couple's two children, and their only son.
Aline's mother was the socialist and proto-feminist activist and writer Flora Tristan (1803–1844), who married André Chazal and divorced him. Tristan's father, Don Mariano de Tristan Moscoso, came from a wealthy and powerful Peruvian family and died when she was four years old.
Fact Check: It is often reported that Paul Gauguin's mother, Aline, was half-Peruvian. She was not; her mother, Flora, was. Paul Gauguin, who enjoyed referencing his "exotic" bloodlines, was one-eighth Peruvian.
Because of mounting political tensions in France, the Gauguins set sail for safe haven with Aline Maria's family in Peru. Clovis suffers a stroke and dies during the voyage. Aline, Marie (his older sister) and Paul live in Lima, Peru with Aline's great-uncle, Don Pio de Tristan Moscoso, for three years.
Aline, Marie and Paul return to France to live with Paul's grandfather, Guillaume Gauguin, in Orléans. The elder Gauguin, a widower and retired merchant, wishes to make his only grandchildren his heirs.
While living in the Gauguin house on Quai Neuf, Paul and Marie attend Orléans boarding schools as day students. Grandfather Guillaume dies within months of their return to France, and Aline's great-uncle, Don Pio de Tristan Moscoso, subsequently dies in Peru.
Paul Gauguin enrolls in the Petit Séminaire de la Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, a first rate boarding school located a few miles outside of Orléans. He will complete his education over the next three years, and liberally mention the Petit Séminaire (which was famous in France for its scholarly reputation) for the rest of his life.
Aline Maria Gauguin moves her household to Paris, and her children live with her there while on school breaks. She is a trained dressmaker, and will open her own business on the rue de la Chaussée in 1861. Aline is befriended by Gustave Arosa, a wealthy Jewish businessman of Spanish descent.
Gauguin lives with his mother and sister in Paris.
Aline Maria Gauguin retires and leaves Paris, moving first to Village de l'Avenir and then Saint-Cloud. On December 7th, Paul Gauguin, aged 17, joins the crew of the ship Luzitano as a merchant marine to fulfill his military service requirement.
Second Lieutenant Paul Gauguin spends over thirteen months on the Luzitano as the ship voyages between Le Havre and Rio de Janeiro Rio.
Aline Maria Gauguin dies on July 27 at age 42. In her will, she names Gustave Arosa as her children's legal guardian until they reach majority. Paul Gauguin disembarks at Le Havre on December 14 following the news of his mother's death in Saint-Cloud.