• Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christies

    Sale 5851

    Impressionist & Modern Art

    25 November 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 12

    Paul Signac (1863-1935)

    Le Trieux

    Price Realised  


    Paul Signac (1863-1935)
    Le Trieux
    signed with the artist's initials, dated and inscribed 'à notre gentille Phyllis/P.S/1.1.31' (lower right)
    watercolour and pencil on paper laid down on card
    6¼ x 8¼in. (16 x 21.2cm.)
    Executed in 1931

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    In 1929 Signac was commissioned by his friend Gaston Levy to paint a series of watercolours called "The Ports of France". This view is most likely to be Lézardrieux, a place he visited often. The ambitious project was the artist's own idea and in following in the footsteps of Joseph Vernet, Marie-Nicolas Ozanne and Louis Garneray, it was to crown his career.

    Signac painted his first watercolours during a visit to St. Tropez in 1892, and renounced plein air oil painting in 1894, thereafter using only pencil, charcoal or watercolours in the field. Watercolour was the intermediary between nature and finished work. It appealed to Signac's love of the outdoors, his curiosity and intellectual speculation. He admired and collected Jongkind whom he called a 'friend of boats and wind'. In 1927 Signac published a monograph devoted to the Dutch artist. He thought watercolours were the most characteristic part of Jongkind's work, 'the part that teaches us to know him better and love him more'. Cachin points out that what Signac says about Jongkind, he could say about himself.

    Signac's 'Ports of France' project was to last 5-6 months. He planned to visit 100 ports, painting two views of each - one Gaston would chose and the other he would keep. In a note to Gaston dated April 1929 Signac writes 'S'ete done. 99 to go!'
    Though Signac planned to organise an exhibition and accompanying publication; the works were divided between Gaston and his cousin André and remained unpublished.

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    Jeanne Selmersheim-Degrange, a gift from the artist.
    Thence by descent to her son and daughter-in-law.
    Anon. sale, Christie's London, 20 Mar 1995, lot 8.