In the fall of 1889, when he was 41 years old, the painter Paul Gauguin was brutally, furiously alone. Famous now for his saturated, almost hallucinatory paintings of life in Tahiti, at the time he was living in Brittany, still two years away from his first visit to French Polynesia. He was penniless and adrift, trying to paint his way through the devastations of his dying marriage, his rejection by the cliques of the Parisian art establishment,…

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