The J. Paul Getty Museum

Head with Horns

Object Details

Title:

Head with Horns

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Date:

before 1894

Medium:

Sandalwood with traces of polychromy on a lacewood base

Object Number:

2002.18

Dimensions:

22 × 22.8 × 12 cm (8 11/16 × 9 × 4 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

This sculpture was photographed and labeled "Marquesan Idole" by Jules Agostini (French, 1859-1930) in November 1894, in the Marquesas Islands, in Nuku Hiva (Paris, musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Agostini's photo albums). Sent to work for the French State in Oceania, Agostini stopped in the Marquesas Islands in late November 1894 just before arriving in Tahiti, where he stayed until 1898.

Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903), who first sojourned in Oceania between 1891 and 1893, left France again in 1895, arriving in Tahiti in September of that year. The artist knew this sculpture from two photographs (a front view identical to the one in Agostini's photo album and a three-quarter view), which he pasted in his album Noa Noa (Paris, musée d'Orsay). He probably acquired these photos from Agostini: the two men are documented to have first met in Tahiti in the fall of 1895. Intrigued by this sculpture, Gauguin subsequently used the two photos as a direct source for a 'Head with Horns' he incorporated into three distinct compositions for a woodcut (about 1898-99) and two drawings (about 1900). This explains why the sculpture was once erroneously attributed to Paul Gauguin.

Who made the sculpture is unknown and its journey between the Marquesas Islands where it was photographed in 1894 and Switzerland where it was in a private collection by 1993 has not been documented yet.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1894

Private Collection (Marquesas Islands, Nuku Hiva)
Source: The sculpture was photographed in November 1894 by Jules Agostini (French, 1859-1930) in the Marquesas Islands (Nuku Hiva), see his photo album in Paris, musée du Quai Branly.

- 1993

Private Collection (Switzerland), sold to Wildenstein & Co., about 1993.

about 1993 - 2002

Wildenstein & Co. (New York) (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
La Sculpture des Peintres (July 2 to October 19, 1997)
  • Fondation Maeght (Saint-Paul), July 2 to October 19, 1997
Gauguin (June 10 to November 22, 1998)
  • Fondation Pierre Gianadda (Martigny), June 10 to November 22, 1998
Gauguin in New York Collections: The Lure of the Exotic (June 18 to October 20, 2002)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), June 18 to October 20, 2002
Paul Gauguin: Artist of Myth and Dream (October 5, 2007 to February 3, 2008)
  • Complesso del Vittoriano (Rome), October 5, 2007 to February 3, 2008
Paul Gauguin: Maker of Myth (September 30, 2010 to May 30, 2011)
  • Tate Modern (London), September 30, 2010 to January 16, 2011
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), February 21 to May 30, 2011
Gauguin: Metamorphoses (February 26 to June 8, 2014)
  • The Museum of Modern Art (New York), March 8 to June 8, 2014
Gauguin: Tales from Paradise (October 28, 2015 to February 21, 2016)
  • Museo delle Culture (Milan), October 28, 2015 to February 21, 2016
The Sculptural Line (January 17 to April 16, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 17 to April 16, 2017
Bibliography
Bibliography

Agostini, Jules. "L'Océanie française: Les Îles sous le Vent." Bibliothèque ilustrée des voyages autour du monde par terre et par mer 85 (Paris: Plon, 1899), p. 32, ill. [as an "idole des Iles sous le Vent."; ill. is an engraving after the photo in Agostini's album].

Guérin, Marcel. L'Œuvre gravé de Gauguin (Paris: H. Floury, 1927; repr., San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1980), under no. 67 [as a lost Gauguin sculpture].

Bayard, Émile. L'art de reconnaître les styles coloniaux de la France (Paris: Librarie Garnier Frères, 1931), p. 261, fig. 181 [as "Iles Marquises. Idole."; ill. is an engraving after the photo in Agostini's album].

Gauguin, Paul. Noa Noa: Voyage à Tahiti (Stockholm: Jan Förlag, 1947), p. 56, ill.

Leymarie, Jean. Gauguin: Exposition du Centenaire, exh. cat. (Paris: Éditions des Musées nationaux, 1949), p. 87, under no. 100 [as a lost Gauguin sculpture].

Gauguin, exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago with the Lakeside Press, 1959), p. 75, under no. 124 [as a lost Gauguin sculpture].

Gray, Christopher. Sculpture and Ceramics of Paul Gauguin (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1963), pp. 288, under no. 136; pp. 310-11, no. A-13, ill. [as a possible attribution to Gauguin; ill. are the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Bodelsen, Merete. Gauguin's Ceramics: A Study in the Development of his Art (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1964), p. 146 [incorrectly identified with a ceramic].

Bodelsen, Merete. "Gauguin Studies." The Burlington Magazine 109, no. 769 (April 1967), pp. 220-22, 225, ill. [as a lost Gauguin sculpture, ill. are the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

O'Reilly, Patrick. Les photographes à Tahiti et leurs œuvres, 1842-1962 (Paris: Société des Océanistes, Musée de l'Homme, 1969), p. 83n46 [as an unknown European artist's sculpture photographed by Agostini in the Marquesas Islands in 1894].

Field, Richard S. Paul Gauguin: Monotypes, exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1973), p. 91, under no. 66 [seems unconvinced about its attribution to Gauguin].

Vance, Mary Lynn Zink. "Gauguin's Polynesian Pantheon as a Visual Language." Ph.D. diss. (University of California, Santa Barbara, 1983), pp. 283-84, 287, 333n406-7, 334n408-11, 335n424, pl. 186 [as not by Gauguin].

Amishai-Maisels, Ziva. Gauguin's Religious Themes (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1985), pp. 250-51, 279n84-85, 459, fig. 102. [as a lost Gauguin sculpture; ill. are the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Wadley, Nicholas, ed. Noa Noa: Gauguin's Tahiti (Oxford: Phaidon, 1985), p. 45, fig. 26. [as a lost Gauguin sculpture; ill. is one of the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Le Pichon, Yann. Sur les traces de Gauguin (Paris: Éditions Robert Laffont, 1986), p. 209, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture; incorrectly titled Le Père Paillard; ill. is one of the photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Pickvance, Ronald, and Kunio Motoe. Paul Gauguin, exh. cat. (Tokyo: Tokyo Shimbun, 1987), p. 179, under no. 130, entry by Kunio Motoe [as a lost Gauguin sculpture].

Mongan, Elizabeth, Eberhard W. Kornfeld, and Harold Joachim. Paul Gauguin, Catalogue raisonné of his Prints (Bern: Galerie Kornfeld, 1988), p. 190n1, under no. 48 [no comment].

Brettell, Richard, Françoise Cachin, Claire Frèches-Thory, and Charles F. Stuckey. The Art of Paul Gauguin, exh. cat. (Washington: National Gallery of Art with Eastern Press, 1988), pp. 367n2, 465, ill. [no comment; ill. are the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

La sculpture des peintres, exh. cat. (Saint-Paul: Fondation Maeght, 1997), pp. 60, 62-64, no. 30, ill., cover ill., entry by Jean-Louis Prat [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Eisenman, Stephen F. Gauguin's Skirt (London: Thames and Hudson, 1997), p. 174, ill. [as a "lost Gauguin sculpture" in the caption for the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Pickvance, Ronald. Gauguin, exh. cat. (Martigny: Fondatio Pierre Gianadda, 1998), pp. 176-77, 247, 250-51, 291-92, 295, no. 118, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Childs, Elizabeth C. "The Colonial Lens: Gauguin, Primitivism, and Photography in the Fin de siècle." In Antimodernism and Artistic Experience: Policing the Boundaries of Modernity. Lynda Jessup, ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), p. 62 [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Ives, Colta and Susan Alyson Stein with Charlotte Hale and Marjorie Shelley. The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 134-35, 224, no. 108, fig. 51 [as a Gauguin sculpture; ills. are a color plate of the Getty piece and the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Stuckey, Charles F. "Gauguin." The Burlington Magazine 144, no. 1194 (September 2002), pp. 581, 583, fig. 74 [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Madeline, Laurence. Ultra-Sauvage, Gauguin Sculpteur (Paris: Éditions Adam Biro, 2002), pp. 169-71, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Tréhin, Jean-Yves. Tahiti: L'Éden à l'épreuve de la photographie (Papeete: Musée de Tahiti et des Îles with Gallimard, 2003), pp. 144-45, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture; ill. is the engraving in Agostini's 1899 book].

Frèches-Thory, Claire and George T.M. Shackelford. Gauguin Tahiti, l'atelier des tropiques, exh. cat. (Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des Musées nationaux, 2003), p. 153, fig. 8 [as a Tahitian curio; ill. are the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Cahn, Isabelle. Gauguin Écrivain, CD and booklet (Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des Musées nationaux, 2003), p. 36 [as a Tahitian curio].

Tréhin, Jean-Yves. Gauguin, Tahiti et la Photographie (Papeete: Musée de Tahiti et des Îles, 2003), p. 173, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Shackelford, George and Claire Frèches-Thory. Gauguin Tahiti, exh. cat. (Boston: MFA Publications, 2004), p. 106, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture; ill. are the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Fonsmark, Anne-Birgitte. "Gauguin Creates his World: The Object in a World of Myth and Dream." In Paul Gauguin: Artist of Myth and Dream, exh. cat. Stephen F. Eisenman, ed. (Rome: Complesso del Vittoriano, with Skira, 2007), pp. 34-36, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Eisenman, Stephen F., ed. Paul Gauguin: Artist of Myth and Dream, exh. cat. (Rome: Complesso del Vittoriano, with Skira, 2007), pp. 342-43, no. 104, ill., entry by Charles Stuckey [as a Gauguin sculpture].

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), pp. 183, 273, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Bailey, Martin. "Idol of the Islands." Apollo 170, no. 570 (November 2009), pp. 40-45, figs. 2, 4.

Thomson, Belinda, ed. Gauguin: Maker of Myth, exh. cat. (London: Tate Modern, with Princeton University Press, 2010), pp. 198, 243, pl. 128 [as a Gauguin sculpture; ill. are the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].

Gamboni, Dario. Paul Gauguin: au "centre mystérieux de la pensée" (Dijon: Les presses du réel, 2013), p. 163 [as a sculpture "taillée ou acquise par ses soins [Gauguin] à Tahiti"].

Hall, James. The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History (London: Thames & Hudson, 2014), p. 214, ill. [as a Gauguin self-portrait].

Figura, Starr. Gauguin: Metamorphoses, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014), pp. 188-89, 228, no. 153, ill., ill. opposite title page, entry by Lotte Johnson [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Childs, Elizabeth C. "Gauguin and Sculpture: The Art of the 'Ultra-Sauvage.'" In Gauguin: Metamorphoses, exh. cat. Starr Figura, ed. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014), p. 44 [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Gamboni, Dario. Paul Gauguin: The Mysterious Centre of Thought. Chris Miller, trans. (London: Reaktion Books, 2014), p. 153 [as a sculpture "carved or acquired in Tahiti" by Gauguin].

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 8th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), p. 316, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Pedersen, Line Clausen et al., eds. Gauguin: Tales from Paradise, exh. cat. (Milan: MUDEC - Museo delle Culture, 2015), pp. 178-79, ill. [as a Gauguin sculpture].

Bernardi, Claire, and Ophélie Ferlier-Bouat, eds. Gauguin: L'alchimiste, exh. cat. (Chicago and Paris: Art Institute of Chicago and Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, 2017), pp. 35, 144, fig. 38 [as "objet de curiosité"; ills. are its photo in Agostini's album and the two photos in Gauguin's Noa Noa album].