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  • Paul Signac
    Nov 11, 1863 – Aug 15, 1935
  • Les Andelys, La Berge - Paul Signac was One of the principal neoimpressionist French painters who, working with Georges Seurat, helped develop the pointillist style. Under his influence he abandoned the short brushstrokes of impressionism to experiment with scientifically juxtaposed small dots of pure color, intended to combine and blend not on the canvas but in the viewer's eye, the defining feature of pointillism.
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Les Andelys, La Berge
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  • Les Andelys, La Berge

  • Paul Signac
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  • 1886
    Oil on canvas
    65 x 81 cm
    Musée d'Orsay, France.

    1886 was a crucial year in the development of Signac's style. In his early works painted in the Paris suburbs, at Port-en-Bessin or Saint-Briac, the influence of the Impressionists was still strong. But at the beginning of 1886, Signac was attracted by Georges Seurat's latest experiments with the division of colour and optical mixes. At the last Impressionist exhibition, which opened in May 1886, Seurat showed Sunday at La Grande Jatte, which was a veritable manifesto of Divisionism. The paintings that Signac entered in the same event used much the same technique.

    In June 1886, Signac lived for three months in the small Norman town of Les Andelys. He painted a series of ten landscapes there, using the Divisionist technique. Les Andelys; The Riverbank is one of the most important canvases in that series.
    Signac exhibited this painting at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1887, with three others also painted in Les Andelys. His work was noticed by the critics Paul Alexis, Gustave Kahn, Jules Christophe and Félix Fénéon. The latter commented: "Mr Signac's verve accentuates the bright contrasts in his new canvases, landscapes of Les Andelys, water and greenery" (Les Impressionnistes en 1886). Gustave Kahn was struck by the extraordinary luminous effect of these paintings: "It is the glare of the midday sun which is caught in these landscapes; of all those that we know they are the most deeply infused with the joy of things and illustrated with the magical effects of light" (La Vie moderne, 9 April 1887). The painting stayed in the artist's family until it joined the national collections in 1996.

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Other paintings by Paul Signac:

Harbour at Marseilles
Harbour at Marseilles
La calanque (The bay)
La calanque (The bay)
Place des Lices, Saint-Tropez
Place des Lices, Saint-Tropez
Portrait of Felix Feneon, Opus 217
Portrait of Felix Feneon, Opus 217
Paul SignacWhen he was 18, Signac gave up architecture for painting and, through Armand Guillaumin, became a convert to the colouristic principles of Impressionism. In 1884 Signac helped found the Salon des Indépendants. There he met Seurat, whom he initiated into the broken-colour technique of Impressionism. The two went on to the method they called pointillism, in a fashion that came to be called Neo-Impressionism. They continued to apply pigment in minute dabs of pure colour, as had the Impressionists, but they adopted an exact, almost mathematical system of applying the dots instead of the somewhat intuitive application of the earlier masters. In watercolours Signac used the principle in a much freer manner. After 1886 he took part regularly in the annual Salon des Indépendants, to which he sent landscapes, seascapes, and decorative panels. Being a sailor, Signac traveled widely along the European coast, painting the landscapes he encountered. In his later years he painted scenes of Paris, Viviers, and other French cities.