The Talisman by Paul Serusier

By: Debra N. Mancoff

The Talisman by PaulSérusier (oil on wood, 106-1/4 x84-5/8inches) appears in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.See more pictures of Impressionist paintings.

Paul Sérusier painted The Talisman in 1888. Sérusier was part of a circle of young artists who had attached themselves to Paul Gauguin, who by then had begun exploring new directions in his own work after critical dismissals of his entries in the Impressionists final exhibition. Sérusier was introduced to Gauguin in the summer of 1888, and he painted The Talisman in response to the older painter's influence.

Set in the same wood as Emile Bernard's portrait of his sister, Paul Sérusier's The Talisman suspends all links to naturalistic representation. Paul Gauguin encouraged Sérusier to use color in an imaginative way and to work with the most intense hues to express the essence rather than the appearance of each form. More than a landscape, The Talisman is a suggestive arrangement of colors on a two-dimensional surface.


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Debra N. Mancoff is an art historian and lecturer and the author of numerous books on nineteenth-century European and American paintings. She is a scholar in residence at the Newberry Library.