Mr Gaugin’s Heart


A heartwarming story and fascinating insight to the life of famous artist Paul Gaugin, by Marie-Danielle Croteau, accompanied by Isabelle Arsenault‘s timeless illustrations.

Gaugin’s Father is cruelly taken from them unexpectedly  during their journey by boat from Denmark to Peru, as he suffers a heart attack.

The young boy goes silent, not knowing how to deal with his grief and he spends his time drawing, sketching and spending time with his imaginary orange dog. A beautiful book and Arsenault’s choice of colour palette is sympathetic to the emotion within the story. Cold blues, browns and greys emit the feeling of grief and sorrow, but as Gaugin paints, we are introduced to more vibrant, bold colours.

gaugin mother

His Mother’s concern for Paul grew and grew, as she watched her son struggle to come to terms with the passing of his Father. Not knowing how to explain his untimely death she would say “It was his heart”. One day on the ship’s bridge, Paul spotted a big red balloon and holding on to it was his Father. He ran to his Mother to tell he he had seen his Father carried away on the wind by his big heart. The passengers exclaimed “Look at that beautiful sun!” but to Paul, the sun represented his Father’s heart.

Red sun

An old man befriends him, and he begins to paint. Clearly, the creative outlet enables Paul to express himself on canvas and he paints the vivid red sun he had seen that day. Years later it was said his painting represented the Japanese flag, but you and I know what it really means.


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