Art: Backward Look

"I always had a yearning to run away," confessed Painter Paul Gauguin in his Intimate Journals. "At Orleans, at the age of nine, I set out for the forest of Bondy—carrying a handkerchief filled with sand slung on the end of a stick over my shoulder. The picture of a traveler with bundle and staff . . . had always intrigued me."

In 1895, Gauguin, then 46, ran away for the last time. His destination: Tahiti. Behind him he left a France indifferent to his revolutionary paintings with their red roads, violet fields and yellow trees. Abandoned, too, were his five children...

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