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PONT DES ARTS (PARIS)
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PONT DES ARTS (PARIS)
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About the item

Paul Signac, PONT DES ARTS (PARIS)\nSigned P. Signac (lower left)\nOil on canvas\n89.3 by 116.5cm.\n35 1/4 by 45 3/4 in.\nPainted in 1925.
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notes

Throughout his career, Signac's enduring passion was the depiction of water. The pointillist style was perfectly suited to the ever-changing colours and light conditions found around water. In Pont des Arts (Paris) the rapid application of impasto paint beautifully depicts the dappling surface of the Seine. In his mature works Signac had developed his mastery of the pointillist technique so that his dabs of paint had become larger than the more tightly spaced dots of his earlier compositions. The style had been pioneered by Georges Seurat, in paintings such as Le Pont de Courbevoie (fig. 1), but through Signac became a highly expressive technique. The overall chromatic impact of these pictures was like that of a tiled mosaic, and the individualised colour patches held an expressiveness and freedom that characterised many of the artist's most accomplished works. Signac described the process of pointillist colour composition as: 'The painter, starting from the contrast of two colours, opposes, modifies and balances these elements on either side of the boundary between them, until he meets another contrast and starts the process over again; so, working from contrast to contrast, he covers his canvas' (P. Signac, D'Eugene Delacroix au Neo-Impressionnisme, Paris, 1899, p. 122).

Pont des Arts (Paris) depicts one of Signac's favourite subjects - the Bridges of Paris. Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon wrote that 'he liked to frame his views of ports and rivers with solid architectural elements, opposing the motion of the sea, sky and reflections with the stable forms of a wharf, lighthouse or tower. The artist first depicted a bridge in the early years of Neo-Impressionism. [...] From then on, Signac regularly painted the Bridges of Paris, choosing both older and more up-to-date constructions. He was partial to the steel framework of the Pont des Arts and the venerable stone arches of the Pont-Neuf' (M. Ferretti-Bocquillon in Signac 1863-1935 (exhibition catalogue), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001, pp. 273-74). The present work is a remarkably rich composition which is filled with numerous landmark buildings on the Île de la Cité: Notre-Dame's twin towers compete with the elegant spire of Saint-Chappelle at the very centre of the background. The Pont des Arts provides a compositional divide that simultaneously draws the viewer into the scene.

By the time the present work was painted Signac had gained international admiration and prestige. He was elected as the representative of French artists to the Berlin Secession in 1925 and leader of the Salon des Indépendants in Paris. Louis Vauxcelles wrote on the present work in his review of the 1925 Salon that the 'Pont des Arts is a marvellous outburst of freshness and youthful energy' (L. Vauxcelles in Paul Signac (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 2003, p. 134). The mature paintings, of which the present work is amongst the finest, depict increasingly ambitious compositions. In 1912 the artist had completed a canvas of the same subject, Le Pont des Arts (fig. 2), in which he had chosen to focus upon the bridge and the Île de la Cité, leaving the edges of the composition with little ornamentation as opposed to the present work's flamboyant tree and greater spatial depth. Discussing the importance of Signac's mature works John Leighton writes: 'The late works of Signac are the culmination of many years of reflection, theorizing, and practice. [...] In the best of his later works Signac combined the sensual legacy of his first pictures with the cool rationality of Neo-Impressionism to create an art of extraordinary chromatic richness and feeling. The intensity that he brought to all aspects of his craft remained consistent' (J. Leighton in Signac 1863-1935 (exhibition catalogue), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001, p. 20).

Fig. 1, Georges Seurat, Le Pont de Courbevoie, 1886, oil on canvas,  Courtauld Gallery, London

Fig. 2, Paul Signac, Le Pont des Arts, 1912, oil on canvas,  Museum Folkwang, Essen

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Paul Signac

exhibited

Paris, Palais de Bois, 35e Exposition de la Société des artistes indépendants, 1925, no. 3127

Berlin, Galerie Goldschmidt & Co. & Frankfurt, Galerie Goldschmidt & Co., Paul Signac, Sonderausstellung, 1927, no. 10 or 16

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paul Signac, 1930, no. 42, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Petit-Palais, Paul Signac, 1934, no. 38

Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, P. Signac, 2003, no. 60, illustrated in the catalogue

dimensions

89.3 by 116.5cm. 35 1/4 by 45 3/4 in.

literature

Gustave Kahn, 'L'Exposition des Indépendants', in Le Quotidien, 20th March 1925, mentioned p. 4

Arsène Alexandre, 'Aujourd'hui vernissage des Indépendants', in Le Figaro, 20th March 1925, mentioned pp. 1-2

Jacques Guenne, 'Entretiens avec Paul Signac, Président du Salon des Indépendants', in L'Art vivant, 20th March 1925, illustrated p. 1

Louis Paillard, 'Au Salon des Indépendants', in Le Petit Journal, 20th March 1925, mentioned pp. 1-2

Louis Vauxcelles, 'Au Salon Indépendants', in L'Ere Nouvelle, 20th March 1925, mentioned pp. 1-2

André Warnod, 'Le Salon des Indépendants' in L'Avenir, 20th March 1925, p. 2

Louis Vauxcelles, 'Hier a eu lieu le vernissage des Indépendants', in Excelsior, 21st March 1925, pp. 4-5

René Chavance, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in La Liberté, 21st March 1925, pp. 1-2

G. Remon, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Le Radical, 21st-22nd March 1925, pp. 1 & 3

René-Jean, 'Le 36e Salon de la Société des artistes indépendants', in Comoedia, 22nd March 1925, mentioned p. 4

Robert Rey, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Le Crapouillot, 1st April 1925, mentioned  p. 14

(Anonymous), 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in La Seine et le Marnais, 1st April 1925

Paul Husson, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Montparnasse, 1st April 1925

Luc Benoist, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in Le Figaro artistique, 9th April 1925, illustrated p. 404

A. Fulcran, 'Chronique artistique. Les Indépendants', in La Croix, 14th April 1925, mentioned  pp. 3-4

Gustave Kahn, 'Art. Les Indépendants', in Mercure de France, 15th April 1925, mentioned pp. 513 & 516

Eugène Soubeyre, 'Le Salon des Indépendants', in La Nouvelle Revue, 15th April 1925, mentioned p. 372

Gaston Lévy & Paul Signac, Précatalogue, circa 1929-32, illustrated p. 490

The Burlington Magazine, September 1968, illustrated p. XVIII

Françoise Cachin, Paul Signac: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, Paris, 2000, no. 569, illustrated p. 324

provenance

Galerie Marseille, Paris (acquired in 1925)

Dr. Roudinesco, Paris

Private Collection, Paris (by descent from the above. Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 10th October 1968, lot 24)

Private Collection (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 28th November 1989, lot 24)

Private Collection (sold: Christie's, London, 4th February 2008, lot 74)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner





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