Paul Signac, French, 1863-1935
Title: The Terrace, Saint-Tropez
Date: 1898
Medium: Oil on canvas
72.5 x 91.5 cm
Signed: lower right: P Signac 98
Credit Line: Purchased, 1982 (Shaw Fund)
Object Number: NGI.4361
DescriptionSignac resolved to become an artist after visiting an exhibition of Claude Monet’s work in 1880. Along with Georges Seurat, he developed a style of painting that has come to be known as Pointillism. Their technique involved the application of dots of pure colour directly onto the canvas, with the intention that they would be blended in the eye and mind of the observer.
This scene is set on the terrace of Signac’s villa, La Hune, in Saint-Tropez. The
person who modelled for the figure was his wife Berthe. As the title of the painting suggests, it was not intended to be viewed as a portrait. While working on it Signac wrote to the American artist Henri-Edmond Cross, describing the woman as ‘a lone figure, a somewhat too young tuberculosis victim… she disappears into the landscape, she should have less importance than a cloud.’ This remark conveys his objective to give all the compositional elements – the figure, the architecture, the landscape, the sky and atmosphere – equal pictorial weight. When he executed this work Signac was becoming particularly interested in Italian frescoes of the Quattrocento. This preoccupation is reflected to some degree in the painting’s Italianate landscape, vibrant colouring and matt finish.

March 2016
ProvenanceGalerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1930; Parent collection, Paris; J. Plangue, Paris; M.R. Gerard, Paris; M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York; purchased, Christie's, New York, 19 May 1982, lot 24
Exhibition HistoryGalerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1899

Macon, 1903

Munich; Frankfurt; Dresden; Karlsruhe; Stuttgart, Germany, 1906-1907

Exposition des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1908

Exposition Signac, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1930

Exhibition of Acquisitions 1981-1982, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 30 September 1982 - 2 January 1983

French 19th and 20th Century Paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland: Corot to Picasso, Daimaru Museum, Tokyo, 5 September-17 September 1996; Daimaru Museum, Kyoto, 10 October-22 October 1996; Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, Yamanashi, 26 October-2 December 1996; Daimaru Museum, Umeda,Osaka, 22 January-9 February 1997; Aomori Municpal Gallery of Art, Aomori, 2 April-20 April 1997

Signac 1863-1935, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 27 February - 28 May 2001; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, 15 June - 9 September 2001; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 9 October - 30 December 2001

Signac: Les Couleurs de L'Eau, Musée des Impressionnismes, Giverny, 29 March - 2 July 2013; Musée Fabre, Montpellier, 13 July - 27 October 2013

Von Poussin bis Monet. Die Farben Frankreichs, The Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, 22 March - 6 September 2015; Bucerius Kunst Forum, Hamburg, 10 October 2015 - 17 January 2016
Label TextDuring the 1880s, Paul Signac and Georges Seurat developed a new style of painting known as Pointillism. Their technique involved applying dots of pure colour directly onto canvas. Signac set this vibrantly coloured scene on the terrace of La Hune, his villa in Saint-Tropez. His wife, Berthe, modelled for the figure of the woman. Signac wrote to a friend that this figure ‘disappears into the landscape, she should have less importance than a cloud’. His objective was not to paint a portrait but to give each of the compositional elements equal pictorial weight.

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