Titled Avant et après, the 213-page manuscript is part memoir, part manifesto, and contains details of Gauguin’s life and thoughts. Written in 1903, the year of his death, it has never been publicly exhibited before.
The acceptance of the manuscript settled £6,515,663 of tax. The scheme is administered by the Arts Council.
Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen, Head of The Courtauld Gallery, said: “Having been lost from view for almost a century, the re-emergence of the original manuscript for Avant et après is a sensational event.”
The manuscript includes anecdotes about his friendships and opinions on the work of his contemporaries such as Degas, Pissarro, Signac and Cézanne. There is also a section reflecting on the time he stayed with van Gogh in Arles. Gauguin describes the incident in which Van Gogh severed his ear after the two quarrelled, a passage that was long regarded as the primary source of information about the incident.
It will be displayed alongside the Courtauld Gallery’s significant collection of Gauguin paintings and sculptures when it reopens in 2021 following a major development project. There are also plans to have it available to view online as a scroll-through document with a new English translation.