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Art & Culture, Fine Art, Museums

The Bonaventure Pine by Paul Signac and Pointillism Art

The Bonaventure Pine painting by Paul Signac (photographed in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston).
Posted: March 10, 2017 at 10:25 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

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Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Pictured above is my photo of The Bonaventure Pine by Paul Signac.  Those of us who live in Houston can see this masterpiece of pointillist style art created by Paul Signac at our Museum of Fine Arts. The address is 1001 Bissonnet St., Houston, Texas 77005.

Written next to this painting is the following:

Paul Signac

French, 1863-1935

The Bonaventure Pine

1893

Oil on canvas

Gift of Audrey Jones Beck”

Up close is not the best vantage point to view any piece of art in that specific style where bright dots of color are on a canvas or other medium. Viewing such pieces of art from a distance is better.  That is because the eye automatically does some blending of the colors.  Therefore the images become more cohesive instead of just contrasting dots of pure color when looked at it closely.

Pointillism in Art

Bright complimentary colors applied to a canvas without being blended on a palette or mixed with a brush is the idea behind the movement started by Georges Seurat and adopted by Signac.

Geometric rules come into play with mathematical precision.  These are not quickly produced paintings such as those created by en plein air impressionists who quickly capture a moment in time.

The canvases meticulously painted in pointillism style are not one hundred percent necessarily true to nature.  However, they do reflect the message or image that the artist intends to portray.  It could be a landscape or one with a political message.

Below is an excellent video explaining Pointillism in art.

Paul Signac Joins Neo-Impressionism Art Movement.

In reading about Paul Signac after he met fellow artist Georges Seurat, he pretty much abandoned his impressionistic way of painting. Instead, he participated in the Neo-Impressionistic style of art.   He took up the banner representing that style of art after the death of George Seurat.

During his lifetime he created art in various mediums including pen and ink, lithographs, watercolors, etchings, and paintings.

Divisionism and pointillism were not immediately embraced by many in the art world as being worthy of merit. Some art critics scoffed at it! This particular art movement was very short-lived.   It was generally between the years of 1886 to 1891.

Paul Signac painting - Rotterdam Windmill Paul Signac [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Signac painting – Rotterdam Windmill Paul Signac [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Facts Regarding the Pinus Pinea Tree Painted by Paul Signac.

The pine tree painted by Paul Signac is native to the Mediterranean area.  Its official name is Pinus pinea. Commonly known as an umbrella pine, it is also known as stone pine, parasol pine, and Italian stone pine.

Umbrella and parasol pine makes sense to me.  That is because when this evergreen tree gets to be a mature height of up to 66 or even 80 feet or higher, it develops that umbrella type of shape with its upper foliage.

The name Bonaventure commonly means “good luck” or “good fortune.”

The Pinus pinea or Umbrella Tree http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Javierme

The Pinus pinea or Umbrella Tree http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Javierme

Pine Nuts

Edible pine nuts are harvested from these trees. They have been grown for that purpose for thousands of years. The pine nuts from the Mediterranean area are highly prized. They are utilized in all kinds of recipes such as pesto and are a good source of carbohydrates, protein, mostly unsaturated fats as well as vitamins and minerals.

The umbrella pine is also ornamental.  Undoubtedly Paul Signac saw many of these trees during his travels.  He memorialized this particular one in the painting titled “The Bonaventure Pine.”

Pinus pinea pine nuts and shells<br /> Source: By Saintfevrier (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pinus pinea pine nuts and shells
Source: By Saintfevrier (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Mediterranean Coastlines

Below is what was written beside the Bonaventure Pine painting in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

“Paul Signac liked the sunlit coastlines of the Mediterranean that make southern France a painter’s paradise. In this painting, Signac pays homage to the lyrical shape of a particular umbrella tree near the village of Saint-Tropez. He paints the pure bright light shimmering off the reflective surfaces of pine needles, grassy plain, and sea. Signac’s regularly placed uniformly shaped dots of pigment swirl and stream, defining luminous contours.”

Painting of Saint Tropez by Paul Signac Source: I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting of Saint Tropez by Paul Signac Source: I, Sailko [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Contemporary Artists and Friends of Paul Signac

Fellow compatriot artists with whom he befriended such as Georges Seurat included such names as the following:

  • Monet
  • Camille Pissarro
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Henri Matisse
  • Henri-Edmond Cross
  • Theo van Rysselberghe
  • Maximilien Luce
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Paul Signac painting - Venice, The Pink Cloud, 1909 Paul Signac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Signac painting – Venice, The Pink Cloud, 1909 Paul Signac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Early Life of Paul Signac

Paul Signac came from a wealthy family background. His father and grandfather before him owned and operated a successful harness and saddle making shop.  The family lived above those shop quarters.

He was sent out to northern France to live with his maternal grandmother during the Franco-Prussian War.  It was there he enrolled in college studying mathematics.

His dad died when Paul Signac was only 17 years of age. That death was a pivotal time in his young life.  Instead of continuing to study math, he liked the art and literary scene. The family business was sold, and I am guessing that monies received from that business freed him to participate in what was of interest to him. I am basing my supposition on the fact of his contributing regular amounts of money to Jean Grave, who was writing a paper supporting the ideas of anarchist communism. This money support was when Paul Signac was only 25 years of age!

Grand Canal (Venice) Source: http://Paul Signac [Public domain], via Wikimedia

Grand Canal (Venice) Source: http://Paul Signac [Public domain], via Wikimedia

Paul Signac Adult Years

Paul Signac married Berthe Roblès when he was 29 in the year 1892.  He bought a home in the south of France at Saint-Tropez. He also had an art nouveau apartment in Castel Béranger in Paris designed by the famous architect Hector Guimard.

Signac took on a lover in 1913 by the name of Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange.  They had a daughter by the name of Ginette-Laure-Anaïs Signac.  He never divorced his wife but continued to support her, and they remained friends. Signac even gave Berthe their apartment in Paris and home in Saint-Tropez. He acquired another home in Antibes, France to share with Jeanne and their daughter.

Paul Signac was not only one of the co-founders but also became the President of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in 1908.  It was an exhibiting society that helped promote the work of artists that walked outside of accepted lines of artistic expression. There were no awards, nor was there judging of the exhibited works. It was merely a way to get to present their works to the public in a more accessible manner.

He led an exciting life and influenced and helped support younger artists who would continue to change the world of art and how we perceive it. Paul Signac died in Paris in the year 1935.

Paul Signac loved sailing, and he did some extensive traveling around the coastlines of Europe often painting water scenes. He owned many different sailing crafts during his life and boating was one of his enduring hobbies. Signac was also a published author. Many works of his art are in museums and private collections all around the world.

Les Andelys. Chateau Gaillard by Paul Signac, 1921, oil on canvas Paul Signac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Les Andelys. Chateau Gaillard by Paul Signac, 1921, oil on canvas Paul Signac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Selected References

  • http://libcom.org/history/signac-paul-1863-1935
  • http://www.paul-signac.org/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Signac
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_pine
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soci%C3%A9t%C3%A9_des_Artistes_Ind%C3%A9pendants
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointillism
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divisionism

MFAH

If you are now curious to see much more of Paul Signac’s art…this is the video for you!  You will see watercolors, oils, drawings & more.  Sit back and relax!

You can find this excellent piece of art in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

If you wish to see more of what is inside our excellent fine arts museum,  check out these posts:

Fabulous Landscape Paintings

Religious Themed Art

Masterpiece Paintings at MFAH

Nine of our Favorite Paintings at MFAH

And just outside see the Phenomenal Cullen Sculpture Garden

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