Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was a French artist and occasional writer. He worked in painting, woodcuts, sculpture and ceramics, and is considered to have worked in the styles of Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Primitivism and Exoticism. He had Peruvian heritage and spent some of his early childhood there, which undoubtedly had an influence on the themes which would later later preoccupy him. Already a married father of five when he took the decision to pursue his art full time, he had begun his adult life working as a stockbroker. During his career, he befriended and painted alongside other artists such as Pissaro, Cézanne, Charles Laval and Meijer de Haan. He famously shared a house with Van Gogh for nine weeks in Arles in 1888; although a fertile time for both artists, a disagreement led to Van Gogh's famous 'ear cutting' incident. Soon after this, Gauguin began his search for a tropical paradise to live and work in, free from the constraints of 'civilisation'; he spent time in Martinique, Panama, Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands trying to achieve this. His artistic evolution and earlier adherence to Symbolism led him to become fascinated by the so-called primitive art of Africa and Asia, which profoundly influenced his own creative output. His life in exotic locations has stimulated much debate; it is known that he had sexual relations with very young women, and married a thirteen year old. At the same time, he painted Polynesian women as strong, beautiful and powerful, and often advocated for the indiginous people against the colonial authorities and the Catholic church. He died of syphilis at the age of 54 and is buried on the island of Atuona in the Marquesas.
Gauguin's legacy was vast. His influence is obvious in a great deal of Picasso's work, even leading the Spaniard to be nicknamed 'Gauguin's son' on occasion. For this reason, he can be seen as one of the instigators of Cubism.