He was born in Paris, France, to journalist Clovis Gauguin and Alina Maria Chazal, daughter of the half-Peruvian proto-socialist leader Flora Tristan, a feminist precursor. In 1849 the family left Paris for Peru, motivated by the political climate of the period. Clovis died on the voyage leaving eighteen-month-old Paul, his mother, and sister, to fend for themselves. They lived for four years in Lima with Paul’s uncle and his family. The imagery of Peru would later influence Gauguin in his art. It was in Lima that Gauguin encountered his first art. His mother admired Pre-Columbian pottery; – Inca pots that some colonists dismissed as barbaric, she collected. And one of Gauguin’s few early memories of his mother was of her wearing the traditional costume of Lima, one eye peeping from beneath the mysterious one-eyed veil, her manteau, that all women in Lima went out in. “Gauguin was always drawn to women with a ‘traditional’ look. This must have been the first of the colourful female costumes that were to haunt his imagination.
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