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Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France. His father died while the family was
moving to Peru. Paul with his mother and older sister Mari continued on to
Peru and stayed with rich relatives there for six years. When he was seventeen
years old he became a sailor and traveled around the world. He spent some time
in the Navy, then became a clerk to a stockbroker in Paris. He became quite
successful at the stock exchange and also began painting during his free time.
He married Mette Sophie Gad in 1873 and they had five children; Emile, Aline,
Clovis, Jean Rene, and Pola. Ten years after their marriage he left his
family. He had quit his job as a stockbroker to spend full time painting. His
income from his paintings was not enough to take care of his wife and
children. Today a painting by Gauguin may sell for as much as $39 million.
Because he wanted to devote full time to his art career, he sent his family to
live with his wife's parents in Copenhagen. Gauguin abandoned them and went
back to Paris. Van Gogh's brother Theo, who was Gauguin's art dealer,
suggested Gauguin visit his brother Vincent Van Gogh. Gauguin and Van Gogh did
not get along at all, and the visit ended after Van Gogh cut off his own ear.
In 1891 he decided to escape civilization and sailed to the South Seas. He
spent the rest of his life on Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands.