Les Andelys. La Berge

Paul Signac
Les Andelys. La Berge
huile sur toile
H. 65,3 ; L. 81,5 cm.
Dation, 1996
© Musée d’Orsay, dist. GrandPalaisRmn / Patrice Schmidt
Paul Signac (1863 - 1935)

1886 was a crucial year in the development of Signac's style. In his early works painted in the Paris suburbs, at Port-en-Bessin or Saint-Briac, the influence of the Impressionists was still strong. But at the beginning of 1886, Signac was attracted by Georges Seurat's latest experiments with the division of colour and optical mixes. At the last Impressionist exhibition, which opened in May 1886, Seurat showed Sunday at La Grande Jatte, which was a veritable manifesto of Divisionism. The paintings that Signac entered in the same event used much the same technique.
In June 1886, Signac lived for three months in the small Norman town of Les Andelys. He painted a series of ten landscapes there, using the Divisionist technique. Les Andelys; The Riverbank is one of the most important canvases in that series.
Signac exhibited this painting at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1887, with three others also painted in Les Andelys. His work was noticed by the critics Paul Alexis, Gustave Kahn, Jules Christophe and Félix Fénéon. The latter commented: "Mr Signac's verve accentuates the bright contrasts in his new canvases, landscapes of Les Andelys, water and greenery" (Les Impressionnistes en 1886). Gustave Kahn was struck by the extraordinary luminous effect of these paintings: "It is the glare of the midday sun which is caught in these landscapes; of all those that we know they are the most deeply infused with the joy of things and illustrated with the magical effects of light" (La Vie moderne, 9 April 1887). The painting stayed in the artist's family until it joined the national collections in 1996.
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