La Perte de Pucelage

La Perte de Pucelage (The Loss of Virginity). Paul Gauguin. 1890-91.

La Perte de Pucelage (The Loss of Virginity). Paul Gauguin. 1890-91.

The Loss of Virginity relates a young girl’s sexual awakening to the natural landscape. Gauguin referred to the fox – a recurrent motif in his work – as the ‘Indian symbol of perversity’, though Breton folklore also identifies it with sexual power. The crowd of figures in the background may be a wedding party coming to meet the deflowered girl. Although painted in Paris at a time when Gauguin was closely involved with Symbolist writers and critics, the landscape is recognisable from other works that he made in Brittany. The model was Juliette Huet, a seamstress. She was two months pregnant at the time, and gave birth to their daughter Germaine while Gauguin was in Tahiti.

Text from Tate

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