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    Sale 7562

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    4 February 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 74

    Paul Signac (1863-1935)

    Pont des Arts (Paris)

    Price Realised  

    Paul Signac (1863-1935)
    Pont des Arts (Paris)
    signed 'P. Signac' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    35¼ x 45¾ in. (89.5 x 116.2 cm.)
    Painted in 1925


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    Painted in 1925, Paris, le Pont des Arts is a vibrant, light-filled view of the French capital that shows Signac's pointillisme used to great effect. The painting was extensively exhibited and published during the artist's lifetime. For Signac, the meticulous composition, even construction, of his paintings meant that they took a great deal of time to execute, as is reflected in the fact that this is one of only a handful of oils that he created in 1925. In a letter written a few years before Paris, le Pont des Arts was painted, he pointed out-- only half-jokingly-- that the seven pictures he had just sent to Bernheim-Jeune were the product of three years work. In Paris, le Pont des Arts, the careful and calculated manner in which Signac has painted the scene makes it clear why his paintings took so long to create. Here, each tessera-like brushstroke of bright colour pushes another well-judged brushstroke into bolder relief. Signac has painstakingly rendered the surface of Paris, le Pont des Arts by juxtaposing darting brushstrokes of colour against each other, revealing the continued importance of Neo-Impressionist techniques to his painting; and yet this is a highly painterly cityscape. The artist's enjoyment of his medium is clear in the enthusiasm with which he has painted this scene, which itself translates into the colourful energy of the picture itself. While this picture has taken a great deal of time and concentration to create, it nonetheless has the appearance of spontaneity, breathing with a sense of life and movement, an effect that is heightened by the shimmering, contrasting brushstrokes of pure colour.

    Signac spent much of his time in Paris when he was not touring the countryside or travelling from port to port. Many of his landscapes from the death of Seurat onwards showed harbour scenes, a reflection of the amount of time he spent sailing on his yachts; in a sense, this view of the Seine and the Pont des Arts in Paris allows Signac to explore one of his favourite motifs: water. Where usually in his paintings, the water is that of the sea, here too he explores its complications and effects, capturing through his deft use of blocks of varying greens, blues and whites each eddy, each boat's wake, each shadow-like reflection. And in the background stretches the bridge of the title, an edifice that must have played an almost daily role in his life in Paris as it was so close to the apartment he had bought in 1919, six years earlier, for himself, his partner Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange and their daughter Ginette. This was his base in Paris, housing his phenomenal collection of pictures, many of which were by artists he himself had known and sometimes supported; and it was from here that he conducted much of his business, as he had become a focal point and figurehead for many groups, be they artistic or political. Indeed, during 1925 he complained in his correspondence that he was invited to participate in so many events and exhibitions that he was obliged to turn many of them down.

    The Pont des Arts (which was rebuilt in the 1980s in such a manner as to conserve the appearance and character of the bomb- and collision-damaged original) was a logical theme, a natural choice, for a painter such as Signac, not least as it would have provided him with a direct route to the Louvre-- the Palais des Arts. The bridges of Paris had long interested the artist: in 1911, he had participated in an exhibition, with Aristide Maillol, entitled Les Ponts de Paris. The Pont des Arts itself had featured in his 1912 picture Le Pont des Arts (C493), now in the Museum Folkwang, Essen; and he would return to the theme three years later in Pont des Arts. Automne (C582), now in the Musée du Petit Palais, Paris. Each of these pictures has been taken from a slightly different viewpoint, with a different composition; in the present work, Signac has deliberately included a sense of the bustle of trade and movement on the water and on the shore, revealing the sailor's enthusiasm for nautical themes as well as the painter's enthusiasm for colour and light.

    Special Notice

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


    Provenance

    Galerie Marseille, Paris, in 1925.
    Dr. Roudinesco, Paris.
    Private collection, Paris, by descent from the above.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 10 October 1968, lot 24.
    Private collection.
    Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 28 November 1989, lot 24.


    Literature

    G. Kahn, 'L'Exposition des Indépendants', in Le Quotidien, 20 March 1925, p. 4.
    A. Alexandre, 'Aujourd'hui vernissage des Indépendants', in Le Figaro, 20 March 1925, pp. 1-2.
    J. Guenne, 'Entretiens avec Paul Signac, Président du salon des Indépendants', in L'Art vivant, no. 6, 20 March 1925, pp. 1-4 (illustrated p. 1).
    L. Paillard, 'Au Salon des Indépendants', in Le Petit Journal, 20 March 1925, pp. 1-2.
    L. Vauxcelles, 'Au Salon Indépendants', in L'Ere nouvelle, 20 March 1925, pp. 1-2.
    A. Warnod, 'Le Salon des Indépendants' in L'Avenir, 20 March 1925, p. 2.
    L. Vauxcelles, 'Hier a eu lieu le vernissage des Indépendants', in Excelsior, 21 March 1925, pp. 4-5.
    R. Chavance, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in La Liberté, 21 March 1925, pp. 1-2.
    G. Remon, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Le Radical, 21-22 March 1925, pp. 1 and 3.
    René-Jean, 'Le 36e Salon de la Société des artistes indépendants', in Comoedia, 22 March 1925, p. 4.
    R. Rey, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Le Crapouillot, 1 April 1925, p. 14.
    Anonymous, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in La Seine et le Marnais, 1 April 1925.
    P. Husson, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Montparnasse, 1 April 1925.
    L. Benoise, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Le Figaro artistique, 9 April 1925 (illustrated p. 404).
    A. Fulcran, 'Chronique artistique. Les Indépendants', in La Croix, 14 April 1925, pp. 3-4.
    G. Kahn, 'Art. Les Indépendants', in Mercure de France, 15 April 1925, pp. 513 and 516.
    E. Soubeyre, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in La Nouvelle Revue, 15 April 1925, p. 372.
    G. Lévy [in collaboration with the artist], Précatalogue, produced circa 1929-1932 (illustrated p. 490).
    The Burlington Magazine, September 1968 (illustrated p. XVIII).
    F. Cachin, Signac: catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 2000, no. 569 (illustrated p. 324).


    Exhibited

    Paris, Palais de Bois, 35e Exposition de la Société des artistes indépendants, March - May 1925, no. 3127.
    Berlin, Galerie Goldschmidt & Co., Paul Signac, Sonderaustellung, February - March 1927, no. 10 or 16; this exhibition later travelled to Frankfurt, March - May 1927.
    Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paul Signac, May 1930, no. 42 (illustrated).
    Paris, Petit-Palais, Paul Signac, February - March 1934, no. 38.
    Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, P. Signac, June - November 2003, no. 60 (illustrated p. 135).