Were Gauguin’s Paintings Part of a Deceptive Marketing Ploy?

| Bonnie Patten

By the time Paul Gauguin left his wife and five kids to pursue a painting career in Tahiti, Polynesian women were not wandering around the island half naked.  In fact, the women depicted in Gauguin’s paintings such as The Delightful Land (1892), To Make Beautiful (1898), and Two Tahitian Women (1899) were much more likely to be wearing Christian missionary gowns than to be frolicking around topless in the flora and fauna.  Undeterred by this reality, Gauguin insisted that his paintings of naked women depicted true island life.  Complicit in his lies was the French tourist industry that sought to encourage tourism to the Polynesian colonies by marketing images of Polynesian islands full of exotic splendor and primitive beauty.

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Bonnie Patten

Bonnie, executive director of, is an attorney and mother of three. Her commitment to educating the public about deceptive marketing stems from her belief that education is the only…

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