He was a frequent visitor to the town in Brittany and had already spent a few months there previously in 1888 before departing to meet up with Vincent van Gogh in Arles.
After then visiting Paris briefly for some exhibitions in the summer of 1889, he returned to the town and painted this work in the autumn of 1889.
Within the Tremalo Chapel just outside Pont-Aven hangs a seventh century painted wooden carving depicting the crucifixion of Christ. It is from this piece that Gauguin drew his inspiration for the painting and the likeness is immediately apparent.
The work is considered as one of the pinnacles of the Synthetist style of painting. Gauguin and other pioneers of the approach used this term to differentiate it from impressionism.
The Yellow Christ is also a prime example of Cloisonnism which uses bold compartments of a single colour outlined with dark lines or contours.
This symbolic painting depicts Christ hanging from the cross with several peasant women gathered below him. The setting for this scene is 19th century northern France and the background landscape is typical for the area of Brittany in autumn.
The yellow, orange and green tones of the surroundings are mirrored in the yellow pallor of Christ's skin.
Around the same period time period in which Gauguin created this work, he also produced a piece entitled The Green Christ. This painting is similarly symbolic in style and depicts a scene with Breton women holding Christ's body at the base of a stone calvary after his crucifixion.
A pencil study of The Yellow Christ is housed in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and a watercolour version was gifted by Elizabeth F. Chapman to the Art Institute of Chicago.