Lot 5
  • 5

Paul Signac

850,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Paul Signac
  • Voiles dans la brume. Canal de la Giudecca
  • signed P. Signac and dated 1904 (lower right); signed P. Signac, inscribed La Brume verte and dated Venise 04 on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 46 by 55cm.
  • 18 1/8 by 21 5/8 in.


Galerie Druet, Paris

Christian Cherfils, Paris (acquired in April 1905)

Claude Roger-Marx, Paris (acquired by 1922)

Galerie de l’Elysée (Alex Maguy), Paris (acquired by 1958)

M. Knoedler & Co., New York

Sale: Sotheby’s, London, 3rd December 1985, lot 21

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Galerie Druet, Paul Signac, 1904, no. 3 (titled Venise. Canal della Giudecca)

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paul Signac, 1907, no. 13 (titled Canal de la Giudecca)


The artist's handlist (Cahier manuscrit), listed as Voiles dans la brume. Canal della Giudecca

‘Exposition Paul Signac’, in Le Gil Blas, 17th December 1904, p. 2

Gaston Lévy, 'Pré-catalogue', circa 1932, illustrated p. 345 (as Voiles dans la brume (Canal della Giudecca))

Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon, ‘Paul Signac au temps d’Harmonie 1895-1913’, in Signac et la libération de la couleur (exhibition catalogue), Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster; Musée de Grenoble, Grenoble & Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar, Weimar, 1996-97, mentioned p. 70

Françoise Cachin, Signac. Catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre peint, Paris, 2000, no. 410, illustrated p. 266

Catalogue Note

Voiles dans la brume. Canal de la Giudecca was inspired by Signac’s first visit to Venice, in the spring of 1904. It depicts a view of the Giudecca Canal, with the island of Giudecca visible in the distance between colourful sails. Signac had planned to visit Venice in the summer of 1903, his fascination with the city partly influenced by John Ruskin’s popular The Stones of Venice, but postponed his travels until the following year. He arrived there at the end of March 1904, staying until May and producing a large number of watercolours during his sojourn. Several of Signac’s Venice oils were exhibited at the 1905 Salon des Indépendants, where they were greatly admired by both the public and the critics. Louis Vauxcelles wrote at the time: ‘nothing is more vibrant, more atmospheric, than the shimmering Venice of M. Signac.’ He visited Venice again in 1908, and in 1920 was elected to be the commissioner for the French pavilion at the Venice Biennale.


Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon wrote that ‘the City of the Doges had everything to offer the avid museum-goer Signac had become in his search for new subject matter. He visited an impressive number of churches and museums, always delighted when he found in the masterpieces of the past traces of an instinctive use of the principles of color division and contrast. Between museum visits he enjoyed the spectacle of the city and executed a large number of watercolors […]. Signac was enchanted by the play of light, water, and sky, and the color of the monuments. Clear architectural forms dissolved in the atmosphere in his compositions, which were often centered on boats, gondolas, or bragozzi with colorful sails’ (M. Ferretti-Bocquillon, in Signac (exhibition catalogue), Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam & The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001, pp. 233-234).


The present composition depicts an everyday scene on a busy canal, with the 16th-century Roman Catholic church Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore, commonly known as Il Redentore, seen frontally across the canal. Signac has used a vibrant palette, with the buildings, sails and the foggy sky all beautifully reflected on the water surface. By the time he painted the present work, Signac had developed his pointillist technique so that his dabs of paint had become larger than the more tightly spaced dots of his earlier compositions. 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 had inspired the Fauve painters several years earlier. In the present work, Signac’s mosaic-like brushwork, juxtaposing dabs of bright blue, green, pink and yellow pigment, gives the scene a shimmering effect that beautifully captures the artist’s impression of Venice.


The first owner of Voiles dans la brume. Canal de la Giudecca was the Parisian collector Christian Cherfils, who acquired the work in April 1905 from the dealer Druet. According to Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon, Cherfils was a ‘great admirer of Turner and collector of Signac’s works. He met Signac in December 1904 at the artist’s exhibition at the Galerie Druet, where Cherfils acquired [three] views of Venice [including the present work and fig. 2]. Cherfils, a major collector like his father, Alphonse […], owned some “Turners, Monets and Co.,” as Signac proudly announced to Fénéon. This exceptional man had racehorse stables in Biarritz, wrote poetry, and published Le Canon de Turner (1906) […]. In February 1906 Signac visited him in Biarritz and spent a rainy day in his house’ (ibid., p. 238). The work was later acquired by Claude Roger-Marx, the celebrated French writer and art critic. It has been in the collection of the present owner for the last thirty years.