Painted at Pont-Aven in northwest France, this depiction of a nude figure throwing herself into the sea suggests a metaphor for a modern European woman forsaking civilization and abandoning herself to her natural, primitive instincts. The simplified lines and exaggerated colors, especially the contrasting green and orange, seem invented rather than observed from life. Exhibiting the painting at the Café Volpini in Paris in 1889, Gauguin established himself as a leader of the Symbolist movement in art.
Paris, Café de M. Volpini. Exposition de peintures du Groupe Impressionniste et Synthétiste (1889), no. 44, Dans les vagues.
Paris, Société du Salon d'Automne au Grand Palais. (1906), no. 25, L'Ondine (Bretagne), G. Fayet collection.
Paris, Galerie L. Dru. Exposition rétrospective de P. Gauguin (1923), no. 12, 1889, La femme de la mer.
Basel, Kunsthalle. Paul Gauguin 1848-1903 (1928), no. 59, Die Welle, Leicester Galleries, London.
Berlin, Galerie Thannhauser. Paul Gauguin 1848-1903 (1928), no. 42.
New York, Museum of Modern Art. Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh (1929), no. 42 (repr.).
Cleveland, Kinney and Levan Building. Catalogue of the Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition under the Auspices of the Cleveland School of Art (1936), no. 275.
New York, Wildenstein. Paul Gauguin 1848-1903 (1936), no. 11.
Cambridge, Mass., Fogg Art Museum. Paul Gauguin 1848-1903 (1936), no. 12.
Toledo Museum of Art. Cézanne-Gauguin (1936), no. 4 (repr.), lent by Mr. and Mrs. Frank H. Ginn.
New York, Wildenstein. A Loan Exhibition of Paul Gauguin (1946), no. 6, lent by Mr. and Mrs. W. Powell Jones; 22 (repr.).
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Paul Gauguin, His Place in the Meeting of East and West (1954), no. 14 (Odine [sic] or Woman in the Waves).
New York, Wildenstein. Loan Exhibition: Gauguin (1956), no. 18, 37 (repr.).
Palm Beach, Society of the Four Arts; Coral Gables, Lowe Gallery of the University of Miami. Paul Gauguin 1848-1903 (1956), no. 13 (repr.).
Art Institute of Chicago; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gauguin (1959), no. 18, 35 (repr.).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Gauguin and the Decorative Style (1966), 46.
London, Tate Gallery. Gauguin and the Pont-Aven Group (1966), 21, no. 17 (Woman in the Waves), 22, pl. 14c.
Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario; Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum. Vincent van Gogh and the Birth of Cloisonism (1981), 44, 65 (repr.), 204-5.
cma. Creativity in Art and Science (1987), no. 16, color pl. III.
Washington/Chicago/Paris. The Art of Paul Gauguin (1988-89), 74, 199, no. 80 (repr.) (English ed.); no. 80 (repr.) (French ed.).
Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery. Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven (1994-95), 43, add. no. 1 (repr.).
Hartford, CT: Wadsworth Atheneum (1/26/01-4/20/01) "Gauguin's Nirvana. Painters at Le Pouldu 1889-90" color repr. p. 132, cat. no. 3, fig. no. 178, p. 149.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (06/21/2005 - 09/11/2005); "CMA Highlights"
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (9/28/2004 - 1/9/2004): "Gauguin and the Origins of Symbolism"
CMA (organizer). Beijing World Art Museum, China, May 26 - Aug. 27, 2006; Mori Arts Center, Tokyo, Japan: Sept. 9 - Nov. 26, 2006; Seoul Arts Center, Seoul, Korea: Dec. 18, 2006 - March 31, 2007; Seoul Olympic Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea: Apr. 7 - May 20, 2007; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: June 9 - Sept. 16, 2007; Cleveland Museum of Art, Oct. 21, 2007- January 13, 2008; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN, Feb. 21-June 1, 2008; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT, June 22 - September 21, 2008; and the Detroit Institute of Arts, MI, October 12, 2008 - January 18, 2009: "Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art"
Cleveland Museum of Art (10/4/2009 - 1/18/2010; Van Gogh Museum of Art (2/19/2010 - 6/6/2010): "Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889", ex. cat. no. 43
Tate Modern, London (9/20/2010 - 1/24/2011) and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2/21/2011 - 5/30/2011): "Gauguin: Maker of Myth", ex. cat. 92, p. 161.
Ordrupgaard, Denmark (2/6/2014 - 6/22/2014): "Friction of Ideas: Gauguin, Van Gogh, Bernard"