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Une vie au fil de l'eau

29 January to 22 May 2016

The Fondation de l'Hermitage will be showing a prestigious collection of works by Paul Signac (1863-1935) from 29 January to 22 May. Almost 140 oil paintings, watercolours and drawings will illustrate the prolific career of this neo-Impressionist master.

This unique collection was assembled by a family with a passion for Signac’s art and constitutes one of the largest set of his works to be held in private hands. It offers a complete panorama of Signac’s artistic development, from his early Impressionist paintings through the heroic years of neo-Impressionism, the dazzle of Saint Tropez and flamboyant portrayals of Venice, Rotterdam and Constantinople to the late watercolours of the Ports of France series. The collection is also exceptional for the diversity of techniques on display, juxtaposing the Impressionist ardour of the studies from nature with the limpid polychromy of the pointillist paintings and the bold Japonism of the watercolours with the freedom of the plein air works. Meanwhile the great preparatory washes with drawings in Indian ink reveal the secrets of serene compositions that were long pondered in the studio. So as well as an introduction to Signac’s chromatic harmonies, this exhibition will also be a true voyage of discovery. 

Visitors will be invited on a tour arranged by chronology and theme, enabling them to discover the many facets of a man of conviction, fascinated by the sea and boats, and to experience the chromatic harmonies of this painter whose first love was colour. An extensive documentary section will provide an introduction to the colour theories of the neo-Impressionists, including a room showing paintings by the movement’s main exponents (Pissarro, Luce, Van Rysselberghe, Cross).


The exhibition is curated by Marina Ferretti, Scientific Director at the Musée des impressionnismes, Giverny and co-custodian of the Signac Archives.

It is being mounted in partnership with the Museo d’Arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, where it will be on view from September 2016 to January 2017.

Check out events and activities planned around the exhibition.

The exhibition and catalogue have been generously supported by


and the Fondation pour l’art et la culture.