After visiting Marseilles in late 1905, Signac proceeded to paint two canvases in his studio: one showing the entrance to the port and this view, facing the hill surmounted by Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, the church nicknamed the "Good Mother" by seamen. Bright and boldly colored, the composition reflects Signac's contact with the artists Henri-Edmond Cross and Matisse at Saint-Tropez in the summer of 1904. The rectangular strokes of unmixed pigment, arranged like tesserae in a mosaic, are Signac’s variation on the innovative painting method pioneered by Seurat.
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Title:Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (La Bonne-Mère), Marseilles
Artist:Paul Signac (French, Paris 1863–1935 Paris)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:35 x 45 3/4 in. (88.9 x 116.2 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of Robert Lehman, 1955
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): P Signac / 1905
[Galerie E. Druet, Paris, in 1906]; [Galerie Moos, Geneva]; Gaston Lévy, Paris (1928–52); his daughter, Andrée Samama, Paris (1952; sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, May 9, no. 60, as "La bonne mère, Marseille. 1906.," for Fr 1,600,000 to Lehman); Robert Lehman, New York (1952–55)
Serres de la ville de Paris (Cours-la-Reine). "Salon des indépendants (22me exposition)," March 20–April 30, 1906, no. 4626 (as "La bonne-dame [Marseille]," lent by M. Druet).
Brussels. La libre esthétique. "Salon Jubilaire," March 1–April 5, 1908, no. 182 (as "La Bonne Mère; Marseille," possibly this picture).
Brussels. La libre esthétique. "L'evolution du paysage," March 12–April 17, 1910, no. 170 (as "La bonne dame; Marseille").
Paris. Galerie E. Druet. "Exposition de peintures & d'aquarelles de Henri Edmond Cross & Paul Signac," June 19–July 3, 1911, no. 17.
Paris. Ateliers du quai Rive-Neuve. "Salon de Mai 1912, première exposition," May 1–15, 1912, no. 65 (as "Port de Marseille") [see Gordon 1974 and Cachin 2000].
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Paul Signac," May 16–31, 1923, no. 5 (as "La bonne mère," possibly this picture).
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Exposition Paul Signac," May 19–30, 1930, no. 28.
Musée de Mulhouse. "Signac: Peinture, acquarelles," January 28–February 12, 1950, no. 5 (as "Marseille. Notre-Dame de la Garde").
Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne. "P. Signac," October 25–December 2, 1951, no. 25 (as "Marseille. La bonne dame," lent by a private collector, Paris).
Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (p. 46, as "View of the Port of Marseilles").
Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Signac," December 1963–February 1964, no. 66 (as "Vue du port de Marseille").
New York. Paul Rosenberg. "Seven Decades, 1895–1965: Crosscurrents in Modern Art. 1895–1904," April 26–May 21, 1966, no. 25 (as "View of the Port of Marseilles").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Impressionist Epoch," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection. "Signac: Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Prints," August 30–December 31, 1977, no. 4.
Bordeaux. Galerie des Beaux-Arts. "Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York: de Ramsès à Picasso," May 15–September 1, 1981, no. 121.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Neo-Impressionism: The Friends and Followers of Georges Seurat," September 14, 1991–January 12, 1992, no catalogue.
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Signac, 1863–1935," February 27–May 28, 2001, no. 118.
Amsterdam. Van Gogh Museum. "Signac, 1863–1935," June 15–September 9, 2001, no. 118.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Signac, 1863–1935," October 9–December 30, 2001, no. 118.
Cologne. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. "Bon voyage, Signac! Eine impressionistische Reise durch die eigene Sammlung," June 1–August 22, 2021, no. 6.
LOAN OF THIS WORK IS RESTRICTED.
M[aurice]. Guillemot. "Le Mois artistique." L'Art et les artistes 3 (May 1906), p. 75.
Exposition Paul Signac. Exh. cat., Bernheim-Jeune. Paris, 1930, unpaginated, no. 28, ill., dates it 1906.
Theodore Rousseau Jr. "New Accessions of Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 14 (April 1956), pp. 198, 200, ill.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 201–2, ill.
Françoise Cachin. Paul Signac. French ed. 1971. Greenwich, Conn., 1971, pp. 91, 98, no. 85, ill.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 502, ill.
Françoise Cachin. Signac, catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Paris, 2000, pp. 68, 275, no. 433, ill. (color and black and white).
Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon. Signac, 1863–1935. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2001, pp. 241–42, no. 118, ill. (color), remarks that although the picture is signed 1905, it was probably painted in the first months of 1906.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 183, 306, no. 170, ill. (color and black and white).
Bon Voyage, Signac!: Eine impressionistische Reise durch die eigene Sammlung. Ed. Barbara Schaefer. Exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud. Cologne, 2021, pp. 216–18, 296, no. 6, ill. p. 219 (color).
Signac painted this view (Cachin 2000, no. 433) from the north back of the old port of Marseilles, looking toward the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, or "la bonne mère" as it was called by seafarers. He painted a smaller version, signed and dated 1907 (Cachin 462), now in the Mazer collection, New York, and included the basilica in the background of several of his later works (Cachin 442, 463, 543).
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