Paul Signac

An original Paul Signac lithograph print.


Original lithograph printed in five colors (blue, blue-grey, green, rose, yellow) on China paper. 

A superb impression of Kornfeld & Wick’s second and final state, from the edition of 1,211 (artist’s edition of 36, deluxe edition of 75, standard edition of 1,100) published in the standard edition of the German art review Pan, Volume IV, no. 1, 1898.  Bearing the letterpress text lower left “PAUL SIGNAC, ABEND PAN IV I / FÜNFFARBIGE ORIGINALLITHOGRAPHIE.”  Published by Pan; printed by Auguste Clot, Paris, 1897-98. 

Catalog: Kornfeld & Wick 20.II.d.

8 x 10 inches

Sheet Size: 10 7/8 x 14 3/8 inches

Signac’s composition “Le Soir – Jetée de Flessingue” is a beautiful illustration of the luminosity of color which he created in his Pointillist lithographs, each of the five colors expressed in a pattern of dot-strokes and brought together through the overprinting of one lithographic stone on the next.
This lithograph is one of just ten color prints in the Pointilist style which exist, eight of them drawn by Signac and two by Henri Edmond Cross.  It is tragic that difficulty in selling prints at the time when Signac was working discouraged him from drawing more images, for they are amongst the most beautiful and evocative color lithographs of the 1890’s and a wonderful expression of the Pointillist aesthetic.
The concept of “Divisionism,” “Pointillism” or “Neo-Impressionism,” as it was variously called, was founded by a small group of painters intent on replacing the Impressionist painter’s spontaneous brushwork with formal stability and deliberate application. For this group, led by Georges Seurat, including Henri Edmond Cross and Maximilien Luce, Signac assumed the role of spokesman from the outset, articulating their ideas in his writings while practicing them in his art.  The painters were seeking ways to achieve a greater purity and luminosity of color than could be found through mixing pigments.  The idea of placing dots of pure color side by side was developed from the color theories of the author Charles Henry (1859-1926), a mathematician-physiologist-psychologist who invented a measurable system of aesthetics that could be applied to sight, sound and smell, as well as to language and emotions, in order to achieve a harmonious balance; his notion that harmony in art would foster social harmony became a central tenet of the philosophy of the Neo-Impressionists.  The painters began to use dots of color placed side by side, rather than overpainted or mixed.  Signac (and Cross) then applied the same idea to the use of dots of color in lithography, exploiting the fact that each color is printed separately.  As in the paintings, the juxtaposition of colors in this manner as seen here in “Le Soir – Jetée de Flessingue” created a special quality of visual color effect and light.