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The Pine Tree at Saint-Tropez

Paul Signac • Painting, 1909, 72×92 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Landscape
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1909
Size: 72×92 cm
Artwork in selections: 65 selections
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Description of the artwork «The Pine Tree at Saint-Tropez»

The Pine Tree at Saint-Tropez is not Signac’s only picture of this tree. He took to painting it as early as the 1890s.
By the time he created this work, he was no longer enthusiastic about Pointillism, having developed his own style. He had passed a number of stages: through Impressionism, he arrived at Georges Seurat’s neo-Impressionism — only to reject it later and give free reign to his talent of a tender colorist. Tenderness of color — that is the term, though informal, that applies to Signac’s landscapes of his late period.

He, in a way, mingled the two styles — Impressionisms and Pointillism. Instead of dots, he used large, differently directed brushstrokes of pure color. This technique helped him achieve a miraculous effect: you can almost see the clouds float and hear the leaves whisper. Unlike traditional Pointillist works, Signac’s late pictures never give an impression of time standing still, which is typical of dotted images. How can one believe that there is no more time when one can watch the clouds moving in the sky and the trees glittering?

In this picture, it is not the rationalism of the technique, but emotion and feeling that govern the image. Bright chords and the festivity of color combinations make The Pine Tree at Saint-Tropez similar to Fauvists’ works.
The sky is noteworthy for the way it is painted. The strokes are thick and bulgy, reminding of Van Gogh’s legendary style. The Dutch genius must have influenced Signac when they met. An easy-going and friendly character, Signac remained in touch and on good terms with him. When Van Gogh was living in Arles, sick and abandoned by friends, Signac kept visiting him.

The gradations in the sky are subtle and light. The trees forming the background are of muted, cool colors. But the main character of the painting, the pine tree, sparkles with warm, bright, luminous, sometimes contrasting hues. The mood of the picture is joyful and positive.