The world’s largest private collection of works by Paul Signac (1863-1935)—nearly 70 paintings and watercolors—is on display at the Paris museum until July 19.
Paul Signac, Les Andelys. Soleil couchant (Les Andelys. Sunset), 1886, oil on canvas, 32.8 x 46.1 cm/12.91 x 18.15 in, private collection.
The show traces Signac's career from his earliest beginnings—an original composition executed on a palette at the age of 19—to his 1920s views of French ports. The whole Neo-Impressionist adventure also unfurls across the rooms, with paintings by Henri Edmond Cross, Georges Lacombe, Achille Laugé, Maximilien Luce, Pissarro and Pierre Van Rysselberghe, among others. However, there are just two drawings by Seurat: the few paintings by the artist who invented Divisionism are still rare on the market. The show follows the development of this young admirer of Claude Monet, whose Impressionist style he adopted before turning to Seurat’s Divisionism. It also shows how much Signac’s palette of saturated tones grew increasingly close to Fauvism without ever fully embracing it, displaying a fierce fidelity to Neo-Impressionism. He also remained faithful to Monet, whose lessons he applied to the end of his life in sumptuous, almost monochrome landscapes.
The show features all the nuances of his style and the diversity of his influences, from Claude Gellée to Turner, as well as the Neo-Impressionist movement’s richness and complexity with Luce and Pissarro’s naturalist accents, Cross and Lacombe’s decorative and Symbolist works and Van Rysselberghe’s bright, geometric compositions. Several paintings, already seen at other shows, look almost familiar, but many—and not the least—are visible to the public here for the first time.