The title of this painting was The Offering and this probably refers to the gift which is being held out by one woman towards the other. The mother holds the baby to her chest for feeding time and it is interesting that they would allow the artist to depict such a personal moment. Clearly life in Tahiti was less reserved than it would have been in France in the early 20th century. Gauguin was a famed portrait painter and was able to capture some incredible scenes once he had relocated to the exotic island of Tahiti which Europeans would have been entirely unfamiliar with at that time. The move encouraged the artist to use warmer, brighter tones as these were naturally present within the island, across its rich environment. This piece is regarded as having been from his 2nd Tahiti Period, which refers to how he returned to France after his first visit before coming back once he became bored of his native society.

There is a window behind the two women which allows the artist to insert the island environment. Trees and shrubs appear in a random fashion, with just the odd footpath showing the involvement of humanity. The thick nature of this environment showed how the local population had managed to avoid being too destructive and even their homes would manage to fit fairly smoothly into the surrounding environment. This differs considerably from western life at that time, where industry was booming and the impact of that was starting to be known for the first time.

The Offering can now be found in the collection of the E.G. Bührle Foundation in Zürich, Switzerland. It is relatively small at 68 x 78 cm in size, but the artist tended to use slightly smaller canvases which were easier to get hold of and also to transport safely. He would experience issues in obtaining artistic resources when living in remote locations such as these but saw it as an acceptable disadvantage which he could put up with when considering all of the benefits of his new life. Perhaps it is unfortunate that it would be a European artist which promoted the beauty of his island, but that illustrates how dominant European culture was over the rest of the world in previous centuries and this situation has already started to change. Gauguin short be rewarded for his boldness and innovation, helping to teach us all about the lives of this friendly population on a stunning island.

The Offering in Detail Paul Gauguin