Gauguin first showed his mature style of solid, simplified shapes and bold, non-naturalistic colour in Vision of the Sermon. It was 1888, he was 40, and, unknown to himself, had under 15 years to live.
The painting is on show in London at the Tate Modern's "Gauguin: Maker of Myth". It belongs to the National Gallery of Scotland, in Edinburgh, where I usually look at it when I'm in the city.
It is a striking image, with its red ground and clumped white head-dresses in the foreground. But, stranger is its Christian religious theme. Gauguin drew up a scathing critique of the Catholic Church, summarised in L'esprit moderne et le catholicisme, written in 1898 in Tahiti. In it, he lambasted the blindness of Catholicism in the face of the rational claims of true science.
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