Paul Signac (1863-1935)
a faithfull divisionist
Was Paul Signac an Impressionist?
At first Signac would paint in a more ‘impressionist’ style, influenced mostly by Guillaumin and Monet. Early 1886, under influence of Seurat, Signac starts to paint in a divisionist style. He would apply pure colours on the canvas in complementary colours, influenced also by new scientific insights on colour and perception. Divisionism is also called scientifique Impressionism and also Neo-Impressionism (but this also has a broader meaning). The first years he mostly applies small dots of paint, also called Pointillism. After the death of Seurat in 1891, Signac will become the most important spokesman of Divisionism. 1895 onwards he would use mosaic like brushstrokes; this will make his paintings more vibrant. Untill his death in 1935 Signac would go on painting in a strict divisionist style. Even while others, like his good friend Théo van Rysselberghe, would let go of a strict application of Divisionism.
Signac only joined the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition:
At the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1886 Signac showed 18 works (catalogue numbers 184-204; R2,p446/7).
Berthe Morisot approved Signac (and Seurat) their partaking, but later on her husband Eugène Manet opposed this idea (R39,p300).
See link for his pictures. See link for an account.
Paul Signac at other exhibitions:
Signac never exhibited at the Salon (iR1). He (probably) was rejected in 1884 and exhibited with the ‘Groupe des Artistes Indépendants‘ starting 1884/05/15 (see above). 1884/06/11 Signac is co-founder of the ‘Société des Artistes Indépendants’ together with Seurat, Charles Angrand (1854-1926), Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910), Albert Dubois-Pillet (1846-1890) (R39,p299). 1884/12/10: start of the 1st exhibition of the ‘Salon des Indépendants‘ (see above; R39,p299). The second one started 1886/08/21; Signac would show several works he had shown at the 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition (R106,p419). Signac will be active for years organizing these exhibitions, resigning as president in 1934/11/07 and exhibiting until his year of death in 1935 (R39,p299+322/3).
1886/Marz + April: 6 works of Signac are also exhibited in New York at the exhibition ‘Works in oil and pastel by the Impressionists of Paris’ organised by Durand-Ruel (see below; R39,p300;R106,p419). 1888/01/30: exhibits at les XX in Brussels (R39,p302+325); he also exhibits in 1890+91+92+93. He will also exhibit at it’s successor the ‘Salon de la Libre Esthétique‘ in 1894+95+96+1900+04+08+10+13 (R39,p305+326). Exhibits at the exhibition of Impressionists an Symbolists in 1891+92+93 (R39,p304). Exhibits at the ‘Salon d’Association pour l’Art’ in Antwerp in 1892+93 (R39,p304+325). 1891/12/02: Signac did organize the 1st Neo-Impressionist exhibition (R39,p304).
D’Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme:
At the end of 1884 Signac will meet Michel-Eugène Chevreul (1786-1889), a chemist and colour theoretician. It was his ‘introduction to the science of colour’ (R39,p299/300). 1885/August: Charles Henry publishes ‘Introduction à une esthétique scientifique’ (R39,p300). 1886/09/19: Fénéon for the first time uses the term ‘néo-impressionniste’ (see portrait below; R39,p301). 1890: Charles Henry publishes ‘Applications de nouveaux instruments de précision (cercle chromatique, rapporteur et triple-décimètre esthétique) à l’archéologie’ and also ‘Éducation du sens des formes’, both with plates and graphics by Signac (see below; R39,p303). 1895: Publication of Charles Henry: Quelques aperçus sur l’esthétique des formes’ with drawings of Signac (R39,p305).
1896/04: Signac begins writing his book ‘D’Eugène Delacroix au néo-impressionnisme’ (R39,p306). 1898/10/22: a first offprint is distributed in German (R39,p308). 1899/06: Publication of the book by ‘éditions de la Revue Blanche’ in Paris; reissued in 1911 and 1921 (R39,p308+312+316). 1903+10: Publication in German (R39,p309).
Paul Signac as an artist:
Signac ‘preferred to draw on the banks of the Seine rather than in a studio at the École des Beaux-Arts’ (R39,p298). Since the Summer of 1882 Signac starts his habit to paint in the countryside or by the sea during the Summer months (R39,p299). In the summer of 1883 his style becomes more impressionistic (R29,p299). 1886/March: Signac paints his first divisionist paintings (R39,p300).
Around May 1884 Signac meets Monet; the friendship will last till Monet’s death (R39,p299). Also in May 1884 Signac meets Seurat and will become one of his few friends (R39,p299). Around this same time he meets Guillaumin, ‘the painter I admired most when I was 20’ (R39,p299). 1885: Signac meets Pissarro and soon after introduces Pissarro to Seurat (R39,p300). 1885/December: start of correspondance with Lucien Pissarro (R39,p300). 1886/June: Signac and Lucien paint together in Les Andelys (R39,p300). 1887/02/02: meets Théo van Rysselberghe, who will become his friend (R39,p301). 1887: Signac meets Vincent Van Gogh; in April and May they paint together in Asnières (R39,p301). 1887/03: meets Émile Bernard (R39,p301). 1887/Summer: paints in Collioure (see below;R39,p302). 1888/Summer: paints in Portrieux (R39,p302). 1889/03/23: visits Vincent van Gogh in the hospital in Arles (R39,p302). 1889/04-07: paints in Cassis (R39,p302). 1889/08-09: paints with Luce at Herblay (Val-d’Oise) (R39,p303). 1889/09/09: Pissarro distances himself form neo-impressionism: ‘Certainly at first sight the Neo-Impressionists seem meager, lusterless and white – particularly Seurat and Signac.’ (R39,p303). Attends a dinner in honour of Gauguin’s departure for the Pacific (R39,p303). 1891/03/31: attends the funeral of Seurat; later on he is involved with the inventory of Seurat his works (R39,p304).
1892: starts to work in Saint-Tropez (see above) and the Mediterranean (R39,p304). 1893/June: Stops calling his works ‘opus…’ and working en-plein-air (R39,p305). 1896/03: travels with Théo van Rysselberghe through Holland (R39,p306). 1896/summer: paints with Van Rysselberghe in Saint-Tropez and surroundings (R39,p306). 1898/04/01: Visits Lucien Pissarro in London (R39,p307). 1898/July: start of a disagreement with Van Rysselberghe about the neo-impressionist principles (R39,p307). 1898/10: paints with Cross in Marseilles (R39,p308). 1904/02: meets Matisse, who will visit him in Saint-Tropez from July till late September, where Matisse starts his famous ‘Luxe, calme et volupté ‘ and stays at ‘La Ramade’ (R39,p310;R176,p196). Early October Henri Manguin will stay at ‘La Ramade’ (R176,p196;R39,p308). 1905/Summer: Matisse, Manguin and also Charles Camoin and Albert Marquet visit him (R39,p310). 1906/01: Ker-Xavier Roussel lives close to Signac; Maurice Denise visits them (R39,p310). 1910/05/16: death of Henri Edmond Cross, who lived near Saint-Tropez in Saint-Clair (R39,p312). 1915 onwards: frequent meetings with Bonnard (R39,p314-22). 1916/12: visits Renoir in Cagnes (R39,p315). 1918-27: meets irregularly Matisse (in Nice) (R39,p315-320). 1919-21: meetings with Monet (R39,p316-7). 1926/04/01: death of Charles Angrand, whom Signac often did meet and write (R39,p319).
1904/04-05: Signac paints in Venice (see above; R39,p310). 1906/04-05: Signac paints in Holland (see above; R39,p310). 1907/03-05: Signac visits Constantinople (R39,p311). 1909: visits Lucien Pissarro in London (R39,p311). 1910: Signac stops recording his works; his output slows down abruptly; paints more and more watercolours (R39,p311). 1921-3: Signac will stay several times in ‘Les Andelys’ (R39,p317-8).
Paul-Victor-Jules Signac, a short biography:
- 1863/11/11: Paul-Victor-Jules Signac war born in Paris, 33, rue Vivienne (2nd arrondissement) (R39,p297)
- 1875: the family moves to 12, avenue Frochot (9th arrondissement) (R39,p297)
- 1880/03/17: his father dies; later on Paul will move with his mother to Asnières, 42bis, Rue de Paris (now: Rue Maurice Bokanowski) (R39,p297/8+90)
- 1882: meets Berthe Roblès (1862-1942; see below) (R39,p298)
- 1883: takes a studio in the Rue Berthe (see below; R39,p299)
- 1883/03: visits a solo exhibition of Monet (R39,p299)
- 1889/01: rents an apartment with studio at 20, Avenue de Clichy, Paris (see below; R39,p302;R16,p316).
- 1889/06/25: his grandfather dies (R39,p302).
- 1889/10: his mother moves from Asnières to 17, Boulevard Péreire (17th arrondissement), Paris (R39,p302).
- 1891/04 – 1898: lives at ‘Villa des Arts’ 15, Rue Hégésippe-Moreau, 18th arrondissement), Paris (R39,p304).
- 1892/05/06: Arrival at Saint-Tropez in his boat the ‘Olympia’ (see above); Théo Van Rysselberghe did accompany him; rents ‘La Ramade’, a furnished cottage situated above ‘la plage des Graniers’ (R39,p304/5).
- 1892/11/07: Signac marries Berthe Roblès; Georges Lecomte, Alexandre lemonier, Maximilien Luce and Camille Pissarro are witnesses (R39,p304).
- 1894/06/02: Signac takes refuge in Belgium because of a wave of arrests in anarchist circles (R39,p305).
- 1895: rents a larger villa ‘La Hune’, also above ‘la plage des Graniers’ (R39,p305).
- 1897/11: moves to ‘Castel Béranger’ built by Hector Guimard at 14, Rue La Fontaine, (16th arrondissement, Paris (R39,p306).
- 1897/12/27: buys ‘La Hune’ (R39,p307).
- 1898/01/15: supports Zola in the Dreyfus affair (R39,p307).
- 1902/06/02: first one man show at Bing Gallery (R39,p309).
- 1904/12/13: second one man show at the Galerie Druet; Signac is admired by Matisse (R39,p310).
- 1907/01/21: one man show at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune (R39,p311).
- 1910: begins a relationship with Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange (1877-1958) (R39,p312).
- 1911/10/25: Signac is made ‘Chevalier de Legion d’Honeur’ (R39,p312).
- 1911/11/16: death of his mother (R39,p312).
- 1913/09/23: moves with Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange to a villa at Cap d’Antibes; he doesn’t divorce Berthe Roblès and will divide his time between Antibes and Saint-Tropez (R39,p313-5).
- 1913/10/02: birth of Ginette-Laure-Anaïs, their daughter (R39,p313).
- 1919/12/01: moves with Jeanne to 14, Rue de l’Abbaye (6th arrondissement), Paris (R39,p316).
- 1931/June: buys a small house in Barfleur (R39,p320).
- 1933/12/30: Signac is promoted to commander of the Legion of Honour (R39,p322).
- 1934/Spring: Ginnette Signac marries Charles Cachin (R39,p322).
- 1935/05/15: Signac dies in Paris, 71 years old (R39,p323).
My main sources are the Catalogue Raisonné of Cachin (2000=R106), Ferretti-Bocquillon (2001=R39), Moffett (1986=R2), Berson (1996=R90), Walther (2013=R3), Denvir (1993=R5) and xx. For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are the Athenaeum (iR2), Wikimedia (iR6), mutualart (iR11) and Google images (iR10). For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading:
Adam, Paul: Soi. Paris (?), 1886. (The minor character Vibrac in this novel is inspired on Signac.) (R39,p300).
- www.paul-signac.org (many pictures; not secured; many irritating advertisements; limited information)
- “Paul Signac.” In Database of Modern Exhibitions (DoME). European Paintings and Drawings 1905-1915. Last modified Mar 3, 2021. http://exhibitions.univie.ac.at/person/ulan/500008410 =iR261; overview of contributions of Signac in exhibitions and auctions from 1905-1915 (50 entries)