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Paul Signac

Istanbul, Sainte-Sophie

Property from a Private Parisian Collection | Provenant d'une Collection Particulière Parisienne

Paul Signac

Paul Signac

Istanbul, Sainte-Sophie

Istanbul, Sainte-Sophie

Property from a Private Parisian Collection

Paul Signac

1863 - 1935

Istanbul, Sainte-Sophie


stamped P. Signac (lower left); inscribed eau vert avec reflets jaune o. gris plus clair (along the lower edge); situated Ste. Sophie (lower right); inscribed gris o.ve (upper right)

pencil and watercolor on paper

13 x 20,5 cm; 51/8 x 81/8 in.

Executed in 1907.


The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Marina Ferretti.

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Provenant d'une Collection Particulière Parisienne

Paul Signac

1863 - 1935

Istanbul, Sainte-Sophie


porte le cachet P. Signac (en bas à gauche); inscrit eau vert avec reflets jaune o. gris plus clair (le long du bord inférieur); situé Ste. Sophie (en bas à droite); inscrit gris o.ve (en haut à droite)

mine de plomb et aquarelle sur papier

13 x 20,5 cm; 51/8 x 81/8 in.

Exécuté en 1907.


L'authenticité de cette œuvre a été confirmée par Marina Ferretti.

Executed on light brown laid paper, not laid down and affixed to the overmount with tape along the upper edge. There are tape remnants to the upper corners on the reverse consistent with a previous mounting. There is a small vertical tear to the left part of the upper edge (approx. 1 cm long). There are a few small dots of paper skinning in places notably one at the upper left corner. A few further small dots of paper skinning towards the edges and away from the center of the composition. The sheet is light stained. This work is in overall very good condition.


Please note: Condition XVI of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot. (Veuillez noter que l'Article XVI des Conditions Générales de Vente applicables aux Vendeurs (Ventes Effectuées Exclusivement en Ligne) n'est pas applicable pour ce lot.)


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Ginette Signac, France (the artist's daughter)

Françoise Cachin, France (the artist's granddaughter)

A gift from the above to the present owner

In the spring of 1907, Paul Signac discovered Istanbul. The city, its inhabitants, its colors, inspired him greatly: "I saw things and men, admirable and new, which is rare!" (Paris, Musée du Louvre, Signac, 2001, p. 80). Faced with the unique light of this mythical town, Signac captured scenes, on the spot, in his sketchbook including this splendid view of Sainte-Sophie. Sketched from the Golden Horn, the city's emblematic port, this watercolor presents the historical monument in all its glory, recognizable by its impressive dome and minarets. Despite the rapidity imposed by the exercise, Signac demonstrates his mastery of watercolor and rich chromatic effects. By using multiple shades, he broadens his palette from ultramarine blue to light blue on a backdrop of shimmering silver-gray. The inscription on the drawing "eau vert avec reflet jaune o. gris plus clairs (green water with yellow reflection o. lighter gray) testifies to the importance of this aesthetic research and shows how we would use these plein air sketches in the subsequent elaboration of his famous oil paintings of the same subject painted when he returned to France. Using sketches such as this one, Signac painted a dozen oil paintings on the theme of Istanbul 


When exhibited publicly, these paintings received enthusiastic reviews from critics and collectors. "It is important to recognize that no other painter has applied the new technique with more intelligence or authority than Paul Signac. His view of the Corne d’or (Golden Horn), which is of the highest order, exemplifies the high intensity of luminous and chromatic expression that Neo-Impressionism can reach", wrote the critic Claude Roger-Marx (in Le Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, March 28, 1908, p. 117).

This trip to the Orient proved to be crucial for Signac as it marked a new stage in his painting as he moved beyond purely “divisionist” technique. Through a subtle exploration of the nuances of light, combined with a new chromatic richness associated with a less concentrated touch, Signac's painting took on a new intensity, of which the early stages are already visible in this charming sketch. 

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Au printemps 1907, Paul Signac découvre Istanbul. La ville, ses habitants, ses couleurs, l’inspirent. "J'ai vu des choses et des hommes, admirables et nouveaux, ce qui est rare !" écrit-il (Paris, Musée du Louvre, Signac, 2001, p. 80). Face à la lumière unique de la Turquie, Signac croque dans son carnet ces petites scènes, saisies sur le vif, dont cette splendide vue de Sainte Sophie, Istanbul. Esquissée depuis la Corne d’Or, port emblématique de la ville, cette aquarelle présente l’emblématique monument dans toute sa splendeur, identifiable par son impressionnante coupole et ses minarets en spirale. Malgré la rapidité imposée par l’exercice et le choix d’un traitement en camaïeu bleu, Signac démontre de nouveau sa maîtrise experte de l’aquarelle, aux riches effets chromatiques. Par l’emploi de multiples nuances, il élargit sa palette et passe du bleu outremer au bleu ciel sur fond de reflets argentés. L’inscription sur le dessin “eau vert avec reflet jaune o. gris plus clairs” témoigne d’ailleurs de l’importance de ces recherches pour son œuvre toute entière et notamment les grandes huiles du même sujet qu’il produira après son voyage. A partir de ces croquis, Signac peint, à son retour en France, une dizaine de toiles sur le thème d’Istanbul.


Rapidement exposées, ses premières toiles reçoivent un accueil enthousiaste des critiques et collectionneurs. "Il faut reconnaître qu'aucun autre peintre n'a appliqué la nouvelle technique avec plus d'intelligence ou d'autorité que Paul Signac. Sa vue de la Corne d'or, qui est du plus haut niveau, illustre la haute intensité d'expression lumineuse et chromatique que le néo-impressionnisme peut atteindre" estime ainsi le critique Claude Roger-Marx (in Le Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, 28 mars, 1908, p. 117).

Ce voyage s’avère ainsi crucial pour Signac et s’impose comme une nouvelle étape dans sa peinture, dépassant ses recherches picturales divisionnistes de la fin du XIXe siècle. Par une exploration subtile des nuances de la lumière combinée à une richesse chromatique nouvelle, associées à une touche moins concentrée, la peinture de Signac s’étoffe d’une intensité nouvelle, dont les prémices sont déjà visibles dans ce charmant croquis.