Parahi Te Maraw (There Dwells the Temple)
oil on canvas
26 X 35 in.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
[Jeanne Baret Dubernat footnotes:]
Although my floral interpretation depicts Gauguin's, There Dwells the Temple, shown here in the background, it's his painting Spirit of the Dead Watching that I'm also concerned with, and shown holding, here.
A friend gave me a booklet of Gauguin art stickers. Gauguin's fame as an artist has reached the realm of art sticker booklets, coffee mugs, and silk scarves. But it's his time in Tahiti that intersects Jeanne's life.
I like to think that Gauguin's travel to Tahiti in 1887 was inspired in part by Jeanne's voyage, and the words of her captain, Louis Antoine de Bougainville (1729-1811) and his mythology of Tahiti as a pristine Garden of Eden, a New Cythera, (Nouvelle Cythere), which in Greek mythology was the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and lust. Bougainville waxed poetic about the "noble savages" of Tahiti who were further mythologized by Diderot (supplement au voyage de Bougainville, 1771).
Gauguin followed this mythological thread and lived and loved amongst these noble people.
The painting There Dwells the Temple was created on Gauguin's first trip to Tahiti. It depicts a marae, a Tahitian sacred enclosure of Gauguin's imagination. Most were in ruins by this time.
Gauguin left many ruins in his wake. Spirits always keep watch.