Groix, le nettoyage des voiles, 1923
Signed and inscribed lower left 'P. Signac Groix 1923'
Watercolour on paper
10 7/8 x 14 5/8 in, 27.7 x 37.2 cm
Paul Signac’s enduring fascination throughout his career was with the effects of colour and light in nature. A pioneer of Neo-Impressionism, Signac worked closely with Georges Seurat to develop a...
Paul Signac’s enduring fascination throughout his career was with the effects of colour and light in nature. A pioneer of Neo-Impressionism, Signac worked closely with Georges Seurat to develop a dazzling new technique of painting that juxtaposed touches of pure complimentary colour to create luminous harmonies, perfectly suited to capturing the changing conditions of the sea and landscape.
Created in 1923, ‘Groix, le nettoyage des voiles’ is one of several paintings Signac made from the quaint fishing port of Groix, an island on the northern Brittany coast of France. Other key examples from this series in oil include ‘Lighthouse at Groix (1925) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and ‘Blessing of the Tuna Fleet at Groix’ (1923) at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. In this particular example Signac captures the ritual cleaning of the ships’ sails in a riot of vibrant tones. The loose brushwork and bright palette of this work highlight Signac’s move away from the rigid dots of Seurat’s Pointillism towards the more personal Divisionist technique of rich, punctuated marks of colour at this later stage of his career.
During this period Signac travelled frequently to Brittany, recording his travels with dynamic ‘plein air’ studies in watercolour that he described as direct ‘notations’ of the ports and shoreline. Signac began to experiment with watercolour in 1888 under the guidance of Camille Pissarro, who felt the immediacy of the medium would suit Signac’s interest in the fleeting movement of water and sky. “In just a few minutes”, Pissarro suggested, “you can take notes that would be impossible by other means - the fluidity of a sky, some transparent effects, a mass of small pieces of information that cannot be conveyed working slowly”.
Galerie Europe, Paris (acquired 25 March 1963)
Private Collection, France
This work is accompanied by a photo certificate (no.2017.23.01/22) signed by Marina Ferretti and dated 23 January 2017