Mahu on the Beach

Greg Dening

  • Gauguin’s Skirt by Stephen Eisenman
    Thames and Hudson, 232 pp, £19.95, April 1997, ISBN 0 500 01766 2

‘Soyez mysterieuses,’ Paul Gauguin had carved into the lintel of his last residence in the South Seas, the ‘House of Pleasure’, or ‘House of Orgasm’, as some would translate Maison du Jouir. ‘I am not a painter who copies nature – today less than before. With me everything happens in my crazy imagination.’ In September 1901, at the urging of that crazy imagination, Gauguin had left Tahiti. The simple savages he looked for were no longer there. They were to be found, he thought, in the Marquesas. At Atuona, on the island of Hiva Oa, he built his House of Pleasure.

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