Born in Paris in 1863, Paul Signac originally planned to study architecture, but upon getting to know the Impressionist school, he resolved to become an artist. He met Monet and Seurat in 1884 and was struck by the systematic working methods and color theories of Seurat.
Influenced by Seurat, Signac abandoned his Impressionist style and began experimenting with Pointillism. Signac tirelessly tried to convert others to Seurat’s methods and, in 1885 he met Camille Pissarro who embraced Pointillism with enthusiasm. Against the wishes of the Impressionists, Pissarro invited Signac to participate in their eighth group show in 1886.
Each summer Signac left Paris to stay in the south of France, consequently a large number of his works include the French coast as their subject. In 1890, he traveled to Italy, visiting Florence, Naples and Genoa. Signac’s love of sailing took him, in a small boat, to almost all the ports of France, to Holland and around the Mediterranean as far as Constantinople. From these travels, he brought back watercolors and sketches from nature.
Signac was a regular contributor to the Salon des Independants and he was the first non- Belgian member of the Brussels Société des XX. In 1889, he supported Toulouse-Lautrec in a quarrel with a Belgian painter who had insulted Van Gogh. He also helped to classify and list Seurat’s work after his death in 1891 and in the year that followed, he participated in a Neo- Impressionist group show.
Although he is best known as a painter, Signac experimented with various media including, oil paintings, watercolors, etchings, lithographs and pen-and-ink sketches. After 1900, he moved away from pointillism and began to concentrate on mosaic-like works.