Nowadays, people consider Gauguin to be one of the best artists in history; however, most don’t know that he didn't start out as an artist. In his early life, he served in the military and later in the navy. Before becoming a successful painter, he was a stockbroker. Nowadays, Gauguin is known as a post-impressionist trailblazer who depicted the Tahitian culture in an impactful, personal manner. All his paintings were of simplified human Tahitian figures. Gauguin was influenced by Emile Schuffenecker, a stockbroker and Arosa, who had a wide collection of artwork. He started visiting many galleries and took on painting during his free time.

He met with Camille Pissarro in 1874, and Pissarro became a significant motivator and influence for his interest in painting. Gauguin, Pissarro and Paul Cezanne started painting together on holidays. He perfected his colours and brushstroke during this time, thus making a lasting impression as a painter. During the industrial revolution, men were required to use their figurative, mental and abstract abilities. The painting showcases the sexual division of labour by redeeming manfulness and indicating that there were activities that only men would perform. Gauguin tries to depict masculinity as the ability to tolerate force or even violence. During this era, men were the possession of male energy or innate that could be expressed in many ways. The painting shares these ideas by showcasing the man's capability of controlling his energy and deploying it for productive purposes rather than sexually.

The male figure represents stability that's only available by continuously being productive and negotiating within the world of labour. A man with an axe depicts primitive masculinity. The man is working hard, thus representing the potential energy and power of a primitive man. The axe also represents a symbol of masculine power that's recurrent in Noa Noa and Metamoe. The painting marks the beginning of Gauguin's fascination with the symbol of a man who can transform dead wood into fire. Gauguin tries to show that a man can focus on productive work rather than an association with women. That's because the man occupies the space ready to strike an object that is out of the frame. In the meantime, there is a lady in the background, but the man puts his energy towards working rather than interact with the lady.

A Man with Axe in Detail Paul Gauguin