Leaving the Port of Saint-Tropez: Paul Signac

Leaving the Port of Saint-Tropez is one of Post-Impressionist Paul Signac’s signature works in the pointillist style of colored dots, based on a new scientific color theory.

This painting depicts the port of Saint Tropez. This place was visited by Paul Signac during his voyage around the Mediterranean sea. Signac popularised this city with other artists and believed it to be a utopia, a fact that can be seen in his art. He made a landscape painting of the area using a technique in which he used small dots. This technique is known as Pointillism. Signac is regarded as the pioneer of this technique along with Georges Seurat.

Cool purples and off mauve overawe the sunlight falling on the receding buildings and portray a regret at leaving as if the famed and inspirational southern French light is quickly fading from memory, just as the evening speaks of a farewell.

Pointillism involved a scientific approach to producing an optical mixture. The technique involved Dots of single complementary colors carefully placed next to each other on the canvas. When viewed, the colors would be blended by the viewer’s eye to create a striking image. Seurat developed a theory of colors which was mainly self-taught but drew inspiration from a Chemist called Michel Eugène Chevreul. Signac was greatly inspired by Seurat’s theory and joined him. This technique was also used by Vincent Van Gogh to produce the famous Starry Night.

Paul Signac’s Leaving the Port of Saint-Tropez from 1901 is in the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, Japan

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