Signac, the Collector

From October 12th, 2021 to February 13th, 2022
tableau, Georges Seurat, Le cirque (détail), en 1891
Georges Seurat
Le cirque (détail), en 1891
Musée d'Orsay
Legs John Quinn, 1924
© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
See the notice of the artwork
Over the past fifteen years or so, collecting has been the subject of renewed interest, and has given rise to numerous studies, exhibitions and publications. The Signac collection is a real textbook case of this, as it reflects the viewpoint and biases of an artist who was particularly active in the art scene of his time. The Museum’’s collaboration with the Archives Signac, which, in addition to the artist'’s correspondence, keeps the notebooks in which he recorded his purchases, makes it possible to establish a precise census of the paintings, drawings and prints that belonged to him.

Self-taught, Signac learned his trade by looking at the works of the Impressionists, particularly those of Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte and Armand Guillaumin, most of which are in his collection. His first acquisition was a landscape by Paul Cézanne.

Coming from a well-to-do family without being rich himself, Signac may have wished to bring together important works, but he needed to be judicial in his choices. From the outset, the role he played in founding and then organizing the Salon des artistes indépendants, of which he became president in 1908, placed him at the intersection of various avant-garde trends. If he often favored the works of his neo-impressionist friends, those of Georges Seurat, Camille Pissarro, Maximilien Luce or Henri-Edmond Cross, in particular, he was also interested in those of the Nabis: Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Maurice Denis and Félix Vallotton. Among the next generation, his passion for color led him to love the Fauves, especially Kees Van Dongen, Henri Matisse, Charles Camoin and Louis Valtat. As the author of the treatise From Eugène Delacroix to Neo-Impressionism indicates from the outset, an affinity with neo-impressionism leads to fauvism. The collection also has a few surprises in store, including some less expected works among the champions of color, such as a beautiful charcoal painting by Odilon Redon or a “slightly lewd” painting by Walter Sickert.

The exhibition is now over.

See the whole program