The painter Meijer de Haan (1852-1895) is mainly known today for the often mysterious portraits of him painted by his 'friend' Paul Gauguin. He began painting in his native Holland, then continued mainly in France, but his work remains largely unknown. He was, however, an important figure in Gauguin's circle during the late1880s. Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Amsterdam, De Haan revealed his artistic talents at a young age. His early work was influenced by Rembrandt. The scandal provoked by Uriel Acosta, a large painting now lost, forced De Haan to moved to Paris in 1888. It was there that he met Gauguin. His career and his style of painting were radically transformed by this meeting. From April 1889 to October 1890 he painted alongside Gauguin at Le Pouldu and Pont-Aven. Sérusier, Filiger, Schuffenecker, Morgens Ballin and Jan Verkade made up the rest of this more or less tightly knit group.Meijer de Hann's painting embraced and developed the principles of Synthetism championed by Bernard and Gauguin: simplification and flat areas of bright colour to evoke an image of Brittany readily perceived as 'primitive'.
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