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The Religious Affiliation of Painter
Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin is regarded as one of the greatest artists in modern history.

Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France. Gauguin was raised as a Catholic and attended Catholic schools while growing up. This Catholic upbringing left a deep imprint of Catholicism on him. This may have contributed to his deep interest in religous subjects as an adult. (Source: David Sweetman, Paul Gauguin: A Life, Simon & Schuster: New York, 1995, pages 232.)

As an adult, Paul Gauguin was interested in and participated in a number of eclectic religious trends popular among intellectuals and artists of his time, including Spiritualism, the occult, Theosophy and Rosicrucianism. Eventually Gauguin became a convert to Theosophy and a member of the Theosophical Society. Gauguin "surrendered completely" to this new religion organized by Madame Blavatsky. Theosophy united elements of many different major world religions (particularly Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism) along with many esoteric religious traditions of the era, including Spiritualism. Gauguin remained a devout Theosophist for about twenty years until the end of his life. (Source: Sweetman, pages 230-233)

After his conversion to Theosophy, Paul Gauguin's art was strongly influenced by his Theosophist beliefs. Gauguin's art became the "fullest expression" of his religious leader Paul Serusier's sermons (Sweetman, page 233).

More details about the painter Paul Gauguin and his involvement with Theosophy can be found in Sweetman's biography of the artist, such as on pages 431, 440, 484.

Paul Gauguin spent much of his career living on the islands of Polynesia. Gauguin had profound respect for and interest in the Polynesian traditional religions he encountered while he lived and worked in the Polynesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean.

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Webpage created 3 December 2005. Last modified 4 December 2005.
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