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“Vision after the sermon” is the artist’s first work on faith. Gauguin wrote it under the great impression of the religiosity of the Breton women, whom we see on the canvas.
The picture attracts attention with its composition. It is as if diagonally divided by a tree trunk. This symbolic device, borrowed from the Japanese tradition, is intended to distinguish between the lower part, where we observe praying women and the preacher, and the upper, where the action takes place - the plot of Jacob’s struggle with the angel. Thus, the author wants to emphasize the opposition of the real world to the spiritual.
To Jacob, the hero of Genesis, God descends in the form of an angel. A man struggles with him in an attempt to obtain the blessing and forgiveness of his sins. Some sources claim that figuratively, Jacob did not fight with God, but with his fear and distrust.
Despite the fact that female figures in national costumes are depicted in the foreground and occupy most of the canvas, attention is focused on the biblical motif. This effect is achieved by deliberate contrast in the use of colors, dynamics, rhythm. The lower part is static and made in strict, repeating color combinations. The upper one is energetic, vibrant and metaphorical.
In the upper left corner of the picture you can see a cow. Traditionally, ancient people sacrificed the animal, therefore this element duplicates the meaning of the biblical parable and symbolizes the atonement and humility, the passionate desire to be forgiven.
Carefully peering into the faces of the people depicted, you will notice that the preacher is similar to Gauguin himself, and the woman, painted in profile, like the artist’s muse is Madeline Bernard.
Currently, the work is stored in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh as one of the most recognizable works of the master, written in the style of synthetism.
Vrubel Demon Flying