The Scottish painter Archibald Standish Hartrick (1864-1950) spent some months in 1886 working in Pont-Aven, an artists’ colony in Brittany.
He later published a lively account of his meetings there, particularly with the artist Paul Gauguin. He produced a painting of Gauguin’s studio (now in the collection of the Courtauld Gallery) in 1886, and exhibited this under the title ‘Breton Laundry’ at the Paris Salon in 1887.
Both Hartrick and Gauguin lodged at the Pension Gloanec, a favourite haunt of visiting artists in the central square of the village. Hartrick recalled his initial impression of Gauguin: Tall, dark, rather handsome, with a fine powerful figure, and about forty years of age, wearing a blue jersey, and a beret on the side of his head, is how I saw him first.’ This is the guise in which Hartrick paints Gauguin in this portrait; an image he later reproduced in his memoir ‘A Painter’s Pilgrimage through Fifty Years‘, 1939. The watercolour is one of two portraits that Hartrick made of Gauguin, the other purchased by the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1944.
Hartrick also enjoyed close friendships with Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec during his time in Paris, having met them at the Atelier Cormon. He created similar portraits of both artists; the former now in the Van Gogh Museum, and the portrait of Toulouse-Lautrec part of the Tate Gallery collection.