A rediscovered masterpiece by Paul Gauguin is to go under the hammer at Bonham’s later this month – the undoubted highlight of its flagship Impressionist sale.
Bouquet de roses by Gauguin (French, 1848-1903) was previously unknown even to Gauguin scholars, Bouquet de roses is an important, and delightful, discovery that will be offered for sale with estimates of £800,000-£1,200,000.

Paul Gauguin was a post-impressionist artist whose work influenced art giants Picasso and Matisse and is among the most celebrated of the modern masters.

However, Gauguin only began his career as an artist after numerous other professions, including the French Navy, stock broking and tarpaulin sales. Gauguin’s artwork only truly gained popularity and renown after his death, and he died in relative anonymity and of modest wealth.

The oil on canvas, Bouquet de roses, is signed ‘P Gauguin 84′ to the lower right. In 1884 the artist was 36 years of age and still working as a successful Parisian stock broker. However, that year saw a major financial crisis affecting the French economy and as such Gauguin, his Danish wife and their five children left their life in Paris for Rouen.

The still life of flowers was, as ever, a popular commercial subject at the time and Bouquet de roses perhaps shows an attempt by Gauguin to earn a living from his art. It forms part of a series of very decorative still-lives that were more than likely an attempt by Gauguin to attract collectors to his work.

Several of the 1884 works are dedicated to friends who had supported Gauguin and Bouquet de Roses was gifted by the artist to its first owner, a local politician in Rouen. The yellow roses – a traditional symbol of friendship – suggest that it may have been painted specifically for that individual.