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"The Bonaventure Pine" by Paul Signac: Pointillism Art

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"The Bonaventure Pine" by Paul Signac (1893)

"The Bonaventure Pine" by Paul Signac (1893)

Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Pictured above is my photo of The Bonaventure Pine by Paul Signac. Those of us who live in Houston can see this masterpiece of Pointillist style art created by Paul Signac at our Museum of Fine Arts. The address is 1001 Bissonnet St., Houston, Texas 77005.

Written next to this painting is the following:

Paul Signac

French, 1863-1935

The Bonaventure Pine


Oil on canvas

Gift of Audrey Jones Beck”

Up close is not the best vantage point to view any piece of art in that specific style where bright dots of color are on a canvas or other medium. Viewing such pieces of art from a distance is better. That is because the eye automatically does some blending of the colors. Therefore the images become more cohesive instead of just contrasting dots of pure color when looked at it closely.

Pointillism in Art

Bright complimentary colors applied to a canvas without being blended on a palette or mixed with a brush is the idea behind the movement started by Georges Seurat and adopted by Signac.

Geometric rules come into play with mathematical precision. These are not quickly produced paintings such as those created by en plein air impressionists who quickly capture a moment in time.

The canvases meticulously painted in Pointillism style are not one hundred percent necessarily true to nature. However, they do reflect the message or image that the artist intends to portray. It could be a landscape or one with a political message.

Below is an excellent video explaining Pointillism in art.

Paul Signac Joins Neo-Impressionism Art Movement

In reading about Paul Signac after he met fellow artist Georges Seurat, he pretty much abandoned his impressionistic way of painting. Instead, he participated in the Neo-Impressionistic style of art. He took up the banner representing that style of art after the death of George Seurat.

During his lifetime, he created art in various mediums, including pen and ink, lithographs, watercolors, etchings, and paintings.

Divisionism and Pointillism were not immediately embraced by many in the art world as being worthy of merit. Some art critics scoffed at it! This particular art movement was very short-lived. It was generally between the years 1886 to 1891.

"Rotterdam Windmill" (1906)

"Rotterdam Windmill" (1906)

Facts Regarding the Pinus Pinea Tree Painted by Paul Signac

The pine tree painted by Paul Signac is native to the Mediterranean area. Its official name is Pinus pinea. Commonly known as an umbrella pine, it is also known as stone pine, parasol pine, and Italian stone pine.

Umbrella and parasol pine makes sense to me. That is because when this evergreen tree gets to be a mature height of up to 66 or even 80 feet or higher, it develops that umbrella type of shape with its upper foliage.

The name Bonaventure commonly means “good luck” or “good fortune.”

Pinus pinea or Umbrella Tree

Pinus pinea or Umbrella Tree

Pine Nuts

Edible pine nuts are harvested from these trees. They have been grown for that purpose for thousands of years. The pine nuts from the Mediterranean area are highly prized. They are utilized in all kinds of recipes, such as pesto. They are a good source of carbohydrates, protein, mostly unsaturated fats as well as vitamins and minerals.

The umbrella pine is also ornamental. Undoubtedly Paul Signac saw many of these trees during his travels. He memorialized this particular one in the painting titled The Bonaventure Pine.

Pine nuts and shells

Pine nuts and shells

Mediterranean Coastlines

Below is what was written beside the Bonaventure Pine painting in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

“Paul Signac liked the sunlit coastlines of the Mediterranean that make southern France a painter’s paradise. In this painting, Signac pays homage to the lyrical shape of a particular umbrella tree near the village of Saint-Tropez. He paints the pure bright light shimmering off the reflective surfaces of pine needles, grassy plain, and sea. Signac’s regularly placed uniformly shaped dots of pigment swirl and stream, defining luminous contours.”

"The Port of Saint-Tropez" (1901-1902)

"The Port of Saint-Tropez" (1901-1902)

Contemporary Artists and Friends of Paul Signac

Fellow compatriot artists with whom he befriended such as Georges Seurat included such names as the following:

  • Monet
  • Camille Pissarro
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Henri Matisse
  • Henri-Edmond Cross
  • Theo van Rysselberghe
  • Maximilien Luce
  • Paul Gauguin
  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
"Venice, The Pink Cloud" (1909)

"Venice, The Pink Cloud" (1909)

Early Life of Paul Signac

Paul Signac came from wealthy family background. His father and grandfather before him owned and operated a successful harness and saddle-making shop. The family lived above those shop quarters.

He was sent out to northern France to live with his maternal grandmother during the Franco-Prussian War. It was there he enrolled in college to study mathematics.

His dad died when Paul Signac was only 17 years of age. That death was a pivotal time in his young life. Instead of continuing to study math, he liked the art and literary scene. The family business was sold, and I am guessing that the monies received from that business freed him to participate in what was of interest to him. I am basing my supposition on the fact of his contributing regular amounts of money to Jean Grave, who was writing a paper supporting the ideas of anarchist communism. This money support was when Paul Signac was only 25 years of age!

"Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice" (1905)

"Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice" (1905)

Paul Signac Adult Years

Paul Signac married Berthe Roblès when he was 29 in the year 1892. He bought a home in the south of France at Saint-Tropez. He also had an art nouveau apartment in Castel Béranger in Paris designed by the famous architect Hector Guimard.

Signac took on a lover in 1913 by the name of Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange. They had a daughter by the name of Ginette-Laure-Anaïs Signac. He never divorced his wife but continued to support her, and they remained friends. Signac even gave Berthe their apartment in Paris and home in Saint-Tropez. He acquired another home in Antibes, France, to share with Jeanne and their daughter.

Paul Signac was not only one of the co-founders but also became the President of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in 1908. It was an exhibiting society that helped promote the work of artists that walked outside of accepted lines of artistic expression. There were no awards, nor was there judging of the exhibited works. It was merely a way to get to present their works to the public in a more accessible manner.

He led an exciting life and influenced and helped support younger artists who would continue to change the world of art and how we perceive it. Paul Signac died in Paris in the year 1935.

Paul Signac loved sailing, and he did some extensive traveling around the coastlines of Europe, often painting water scenes. He owned many different sailing crafts during his life, and boating was one of his enduring hobbies. Signac was also a published author. Many of his works of art are in museums and private collections all around the world.

"Les Andelys Chateau Gaillard" (1921)

"Les Andelys Chateau Gaillard" (1921)


If you are now curious to see much more of Paul Signac’s art . . . this is the video for you! You will see watercolors, oils, drawings & more. Sit back and relax!




This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 02, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about this painting as well as Paul Signac who created it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 02, 2020:

I rather like the style and am intrigued by his life history. The choice of color is interesting— very pastel overall.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 24, 2020:

Hi Robert,

There was much to relate about this painting as well as the artist who painted it. It made sense to me. (Smile)

Robert Anaya from NY on March 24, 2020:

Amazing technique of drawing out so much information from one painting. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 23, 2020:

Hi Bill and Manatita,

Happy Monday to you both. Let's all appreciate the beauty that is out there, whether it is nature, paintings, smiles on a loved one's face, or a myriad of other things. Thanks for your comments.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 23, 2020:

I love his art.Thanks for the introduction to it!

Happy Monday my friend.

manatita44 from london on March 23, 2020:


You are an amazing artiste! I have not forgotten. Knowledge is great of the individual but I don't have that artistic know how. However, I just wanted to know your willingness so far, The Sri Chinmoy Centre is run from NY by a President and small committee and I would need to ask for you to do something like that.

On a side note, Sri Chinmoy is by far, the most prolific artist I have ever known. He did things in thousands and millions in NY, USA, for over 43 years. Whether it was songs, paintings, music, literature, poetry ... athletics and weightlifting ... he was way ahead of Rumi, my favourite Persian poet, who wrote 60,000 poems! For Sri Chinmoy, God is the supreme Artist and humans are mere instruments of God.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 23, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

It sounds to me like you should be the person writing about it since you know the people involved. It would make for a much better story. The same could be said if I asked you to write about the art of Charles Criner. You might be able to acquire some images, but you would never know the personal details like we do because of knowing him personally. What do you think? You are an excellent writer and poet. You could even do it in poetic form!

manatita44 from london on March 23, 2020:

Thank you, Peggy.

I believe his Jhana Kalas are copyrighted. He display them around the world but I'm not sure about how available they are on the internet.

I can talk to our President of the Sri Chinmoy Centre, when things calm down. Would be lovely to see them here. Thank you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 22, 2020:

Hi Liz,

It is wonderful that reading this made you think of your trips to the French coast. Enjoy those memories!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 22, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

So happy to hear that you enjoyed this article about Paul Signac and his pointillism art. Sometime, when I have more time, I will look up the art of Guruji. Thanks for telling me about him.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 22, 2020:

This is a fascinating article. I admire your technique of drawing out so much information from one painting. I was especially interested in your references to St Tropez and Antibes, as I am familiar with this part of the French coast from many childhood holidays and some more recent trips.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 22, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

I am pleased that reading this post informed you about pointillism art, and that done by Paul Signac. Thanks for your comment.

manatita44 from london on March 22, 2020:

I'm impressed! So much colour and creativity and the videos do him justice, I suppose. I guess that Sri Chinmoy would have been pleased to meet him. Guruji didn't do Pointillism, but he used blank canvas to create over 140,000 paintings and drew several million birds in his life-time.

I would be proud of you no ends, if you took up his work one day and write an article like this. Sri Chinmoy called his work Jharna Kala -- fountain art or art flowing from the Source and they are all spontaneous. We have exhibited them in many countries and even places as significant as the Louvre in Paris.

We all come into this world for different reasons and Paul Signac seemed to be one of the luckier ones who found their purpose. Have a great Sunday!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 22, 2020:

I never heard of pointillism art before and it is really beautiful. The life of Paul Signac is really interesting. I would enjoy this museum as I like this type of art. This is another treasure located in Houston.