Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh

Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh are very unique and dissimilar in their separate styles and approaches to the canvas. This paper will compare and contrast Gauguin’s work What! Are you Jealous? and van Gogh’s work Starry Night in the forms of color, depictions and structure. The colors of Gauguin’s palate in the aforesaid painting are typical of his style: a muted tone in the foreground mixed with vibrant colors surrounding the focal point of the painting. The use of shade and sun mixed with skin tone add an extra and noticeable depth and warmth to this painting.

Contrasting with Gauguin’s image is van Gogh’s darker and cooler colors in Starry Night. While Gauguin’s vibrant colors lend to the canvas a more intimate setting, van Gogh’s work gives the viewer a naturalistic perspective of the night. Both works are very emotional to look because of their use of color. The warmth of Gauguin and the coolness of van Gogh are underscored with a type of intimacy.

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This intimacy is depicted in Gauguin’s work with two nude females, sunbathing in what may be assumed to be the after moment of their lovemaking.

Thus, their warm colors accentuate their bodies. Van Gogh’s depiction of the night sky is dazzling and beautiful and no less moving than Gauguin’s work. The element that is of particular interest in either work is the shadow or dark colors; both artists have this. Gauguin exhibits it with the shade across the woman in the foreground, and van Gogh exhibits it in the dark structure aligning the left of his canvas and in mid-ground.

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This attention to structure for either artist is well orchestrated.

They both have weight as well as movement to them: that is, the weight of emotion for that scene and the structure of the paint to emphasize those emotions. Both artists use naturalistic shapes, that of nature in van Gogh and of human form in Gauguin (as well as background form in nature) to deliver their stunning scenes. It is in their structure that these two paintings are the most similar.


Janson, H. W. & Anthony F. Janson. (1997). History of Art. Fifth Edition Revised. Prentice Hall, Inc. , and Harry Abrams, Inc. , Publishers. New York.

Updated: Mar 15, 2022
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Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh. (2017, Mar 03). Retrieved from

Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh essay
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