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    Sale 7562

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    4 February 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 73

    Paul Signac (1863-1935)

    Fécamp. Soleil

    Price Realised  

    Paul Signac (1863-1935)
    Fécamp. Soleil
    signed 'P. Signac' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    17¼ x 21¼ in. (44 x 54 cm.)
    Painted in 1886

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    Fécamp. Soleil was painted in October of 1886, whilst Signac was staying in Fécamp, during one of his regular summer sojourns in upper Normandy. The dramatic stretch of coastline surrounding the busy fishing village, had also been the subject of a series of paintings by Monet, whom Signac greatly admired. The image of warm shimmering sands under a crystalline sky was created shortly after Signac's participation in the eighth and final group exhibition of the Impressionists in May-June of 1886, an event that marked a transitional stylistic phase for the young painter and the birth of Neo-Impressionism.

    Signac's paintings from the early 1880s had been characterised by a looser, more fluid application of paint, but Fécamp. Soleil displays a carefully calculated use of colour harmonies and a newly evolved sense of control. The painting forms part of Signac's early exploration of the revolutionary divisionist technique of painting developed by Georges Seurat, with its flurries of dappled marks of pure pigment over defining zones of colour. Signac had become acquainted with Seurat in 1884, after viewing his monumental painting Baigneuses à Asniéres at the first exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. Deeply interested in the scientific principles of Seurat's technique, Signac enthusiastically adopted his methodical style, examining the way in which small pointillist brushstrokes of colour would blend in the eye of the beholder to recreate the effects of light in nature.

    Signac employs this stylistic method to intensify the glowing depth and luminosity of his compositions, wherein each brush stroke acts as an optical stimulant. Signac became an advocate and a teacher of this unique approach to painting, and defended it in his celebrated treatise of 1899, D'Eugéne Delacroix au néo-impressionisme: 'Divisionism is a complex system of balancing harmonies that must not be confused with covering a canvas with the haphazard application of colour dots lacking any contrast or balance. The separation and careful juxtaposition of these colors and the optical blending that results assures the purity, that is to say, the luminosity and the intensity of the hues. The painter can utilize the entire spectrum of colours to create a composition on canvas, just as a conductor interprets notes to guide an orchestra through a musical composition (P. Signac, D'Eugéne Delacroix au néo-impressionisme, Paris, 1899).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    The artist's studio.
    Galerie Goldschmidt, Frankfurt, by the 1920s.
    Julius Flörsheim, Hamburg.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 2 May 1996, lot 134.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    Cahier d'opus [The artist's handlist, produced 1887-1902], no. 145.
    Cahier manuscrit [The artist's handlist, produced 1902-1909].
    G. Lévy [in collaboration with the artist], Pré-catalogue, produced circa 1929-1932 (illustrated p. 142).
    F. Cachin, Signac: catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 2000, no. 131 (illustrated pp. 21 and 177).


    Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, P. Signac, June - November 2003, no. 8 (illustrated p. 37).