Lucie Cousturier, Paul Signac, Paris, 1922, illustrated pl. 3 (titled Marseille, le brick italien)
“Une enquête pour pour rénover la tapisserie” in Bulletin de la vie artistique, Paris, April 15, 1923, illustrated p. 171
Marc Sandoz, “Signac et Marquet à La Rochelle, Les Sables d’Olonne, La Chaume, Croix de Vie. Influence du site sur leur oeuvre. Oeuvres inédites 1911-1933” in Dibutade, vol. IV, Paris, 1957, illustrated p. 13
François Daulte, Connaissance des Arts, Paris, 1959, illustrated p. 79
John Sutter, Les Néo-Impressionnistes, London, 1970, illustrated p. 127 (titled Brig at Marseilles)
Françoise Cachin, Signac, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, Paris, 2000, no. 488, illustrated p. 298
The style had been pioneered by Georges Seurat, in paintings such as Entrée du Port d’Honfleur, but through Signac’s development became a highly expressive technique. The overall chromatic impact of these pictures was like that of a tiled mosaic, and the individualized color patches held an expressiveness and freedom that characterized many of the artist's most accomplished works. Signac described the process of Pointillist color composition: "The painter, starting from the contrast of two colors, 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 Néo-Impressionnisme, Paris, 1899, p. 122).
Signac’s focus on the port of Marseille began in 1905, when he first visited this picturesque site on the southern coast of France. During his travels, he noted his impressions in watercolor or ink before developing his colorful canvases in the studio. The artist revisited this bustling fishing town many times, in order to capture on canvas the brightly colored fishing boats as they sailed into the harbor. In La Passe de Marseille, Signac has depicted a magnificent ship entering the port at the end of the day, in an idealized account of the active harbor.
Discussing the development of his style, 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 (exhibition catalogue), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001, p. 20).
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