Paul Signac actually wanted to be a writer, but after seeing the impressionist paintings of Claude Monet, he decides to start painting. Signac does not attend an art college, he learns the trade by spending many hours sketching and experimenting. When he strikes up a friendship with Georges Seurat, his life changes.


The two artists are no longer satisfied with the impressionists’ use of colour and fluent brushstrokes. Together they develop a new, structured technique, in which the colours are mixed only with white and are applied directly to the canvas in small dots. In this way, the colours only merge together in the eye of the observer, thus creating a vibrating effect of shimmering light. Due to the characteristic dots (or points), the style is termed ‘pointillism’.

Seascapes and harbour views

Signac paints mostly seascapes and harbour views, such as this view of Collioure, a French town on the Mediterranean Sea. The pale colours reproduce the effect of the Mediterranean sun, which according to the artist ‘fades the shadows, tempers the local colours and makes the clear sky thinner’.