Skip to main content

Modern Thought and Catholicism

Paul Gauguin, French, 1848–1903
Manuscript with two woodcuts and two transfer drawings on the cover
Made in
Polynesia, French Polynesia, Oceania
Associated with
Polynesia, French Polynesia, Oceania
Books & manuscripts
Current Location
Not on view
12 5/8 x 7 1/16 x 13/16 in. (32.1 x 17.9 x 2.1 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Vincent L. Price Jr., in memory of his parents, Marguerite and Vincent L. Price
Public Domain
Object Number
An example of Paul Gauguin's critique of Western culture, this manuscript is a rambling diatribe against the Catholic Church that relies on the writings of the spiritualist Gerald Massey. Gauguin first wrote it in Tahiti in 1897-98 and later transcribed it into this form in the Marquesas Islands in 1902. On the exterior of the manuscript, he pasted the two transfer drawings that are shown here. The front cover on the right represents the brothel of Mary Magdalen, and the back cover shows the Virgin Mary presenting the Christ child in a cave with the Magdalen, an angel, and attendants, one of which is the artist himself. Gauguin created transfer drawings by completely inking a sheet, placing another sheet over it, and drawing with pencil and crayon on the top of the sheet, much like carbon paper is used. The drawing was thus transferred to the back of the drawn sheet through contact with the inked paper below. The transferred image on the back was the work of art, intended to look like a rubbing or a mysterious work from the past.
Scroll back to top