Like many of the works that French artist Paul Gauguin worked on while in Tahiti, this oil on canvas painting, complete in 1899, was based on a photograph. The photographs were an inspiration for his paintings, he did not copy the scenes out of them.
This Post-Impressionist painting portrays two Tahitian Eves, as they are called, before the fall of the Garden of Eden. That is, their opposite would be the civilized Eve. She is able to walk around nude without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Gauguin found civilization sexually frustrating, which is one reason why he moved to Tahiti.
In a traditional conception of women, these two figures are shown alongside fruits and flowers- all of which, including women, are presented as objects of pleasure. These women are sexually offering themselves to the viewer. They have mysterious expressions on their face, but it is clear that they are offering both the mango blossoms and their breasts to us, as the viewers.
Gauguin’s intention with this painting, and many of his Tahitian works, was to convince us to return to the state of the Garden of Eden. He wanted to inspire us to be less civilized. He is trying to show that everyone will be happier if this is how it is- women are liberated and men are pleasured.
Today, this painting is part of the collection of and on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.