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Proceedings Paper

Paul Gauguin in Brittany
Author(s): John F. Asmus
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Paper Abstract

Ever since the dawn of the 20th Century there has been a universal consensus that Alphonse Mucha launched the sensation that became known as Art Nouveau. This event was associated with the appearance of his Gismonda poster promoting the Sarah Bernhardt play of that name in Paris in 1894. At an estate sale in 1954 a small collage bearing a likeness of Mucha's Gismonda was offered. It had been fabricated by gluing slivers cut from sixty postage stamps to a 20cm ceramic tile. Digital computer image enhancement was applied to the collage design, initials on a walking stick from the same estate collection, and the Mucha poster. These geometrical analyses revealed that the collage is more detailed than the Mucha "original". This led to our hypothesis that the famous poster was a hasty photographic plagiarism of the intricate ceramic-tile collage. Image analyses of the initials on the companion walking stick revealed conformity with the famous enigmatic "P GO" monogram of Paul Gauguin. We conclude that Gauguin rather than Mucha created the Gismonda composition. Historical evidence suggests that, while Gauguin was in Brittany recovering from injuries sustained in a fistfight, Annah la Javanese stole his possessions and took them to Paris where her next lover, Mucha, copied the collage and presented it as his original poster design.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 July 2009
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 7391, O3A: Optics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology II, 739102 (1 July 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.824646
Show Author Affiliations
John F. Asmus, Univ. of California, San Diego (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7391:
O3A: Optics for Arts, Architecture, and Archaeology II
Luca Pezzati; Renzo Salimbeni, Editor(s)

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