The Moon and the Earth is Gauguin’s depiction of an ancient Polynesian myth, in which Hina, the female spirit of the Moon, implores Fatou, the male spirit of the Earth, to grant humans eternal life. It is a request Fatou resolutely denies. Gauguin’s depiction of Hina and Fatou—marked by a great disparity in the figure’s size, scale, and coloration—seems to reflect their ancient quarrel. In the foreground, Hinas nude figure is in full view, while Fatou, rendered from the chest up, looms larger than life in the background. But there is no middle ground; the distance between them appears impassable.
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
1893, Paul Gauguin.
After November 1893 - March 26, 1918, Edgar Degas, Paris, acquired as gift or by exchange from the artist and sold at auction (Tableaux modernes et anciens: Aquarelles–pastels–dessins. . . composant la collection Edgar Degas, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, March 26-27, 1918, lot 40).
[March 26] 1918, Paul Rosenberg, Paris, purchased at the auction sale of the Edgar Degas collection.
1918, Bourgeois Galleries, New York, purchased from Paul Rosenberg.
1918 - 1931, Lillie P. Bliss (1864-1931), New York, purchased from Bourgeois Galleries.
1931/1934, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired by bequest from Lillie P. Bliss.
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