Musée d'Orsay: Paul Signac The Road to Gennevilliers

Paul Signac
The Road to Gennevilliers

The Road to Gennevilliers
Paul Signac (1863-1935)
The Road to Gennevilliers
Oil on canvas
H. 73; W. 91,5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Route de Gennevilliers [The Road to Gennevilliers]

From the beginning of the 1880s, the young Paul Signac had revealed a taste for urban landscapes, painting views of Montmartre and the Paris suburbs, and in particular Asnières where he lived with his mother. This view of the northern suburb of Paris is an example of this interest, even if the industrialised area is pushed back into the distance, on to the horizon. The wide area given over to the road, the signposts and the few gaunt trees, all describe a landscape entirely shaped by human activity.

In this Road to Gennevilliers, Monet's influence is still visible. Signac had been able to admire works by the Impressionist master in the offices of the review La Vie Moderne in 1880 and during his private exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in 1883. The composition of the foreground in areas of flat colour is reminiscent of the landscapes Monet painted in the 1870s, particularly during his stay in Argenteuil (1871-1878).
This landscape also has thematic and stylistic affinities with the suburban scenes painted by Sisley, Pissarro and Caillebotte some ten years earlier, making it one of Signac's last, manifestly Impressionist paintings. The following year he started to work with Seurat, and discovered the Divisionist technique that he then adopted definitively.

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