Paul Signac (French, 18631935)
Oil on canvas; 25 1/2 x 32 in. (64.8 x 81.3 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.209)
As Georges Seurat's most ardent follower, Paul Signac steadfastly promoted the principles of Neo-Impressionism all his life. Adopting Seurat's system of color harmony, Signac argued for the meticulous application of precise hues in separate strokes of paint, a technique realizing "brilliantly colored lights" across the canvas. An avid sailing enthusiast, Signac favored marine subjects, in both his paintings and watercolors.
Evening Calm, Concarneau, Opus 220 is one of a series of five Concarneau paintings made in the summer of 1891. Much in the manner of Monet, these marines successively capture the transitory light of day. In this serene evening view, Seurat casts distant sardine boats in a rhythmic pattern, while closer at hand a tuna boat returns to port. As with other paintings in the series, Signac's palette opposes two complementary colors: yellow (ranging from ochre to orange) and blue (from sky blue to violet). The paintings are further linked by musical subtitles that integrate the works as different movements of the same piece.