1877 – 1958
Title: "Vue de St. Tropez"
Date: c. 1915
Size: Height 31 inches Width 37 ½ inches (framed)
Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange was a French Neo-Impressionist painter who used the art technique of pointillism with her main themes of flowers, gardens and coastal scenes. She painted with separate mosaic-like blocks of pure color and remained loyal to this method throughout her life. Using this technique, she transformed her canvases into spectacular sparkling paintings.
Jeanne was raised in a family of artists and architects and became an art student of Paul Signac and later his life partner. Having completed her studies under the tutelage of Signac she exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon. Signac incorporated the techniques and theories of Neo-Impressionism (also known as “Divisionism” and “Pointillism”) that he developed in collaboration with Georges Seurat. The rapid, varied brushstrokes of his Impressionist style, intended to convey the effects of light on objects, were transformed into the small, roughly square points of Neo-Impressionism. Signac, Seurat and their fellow Neo-Impressionists began a process in Modernism of breaking down the basic components of a painting, in a way, separating color from the objects it described, an important step toward the further abstraction by later artists.
In September 1912, Signac and Selmersheim-Desgrange moved to a rented villa in Cap d’Antibes, France and in October 1912 she gave birth to their daughter Ginnette Laurie Anaiis. To fully understand the period in which Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange lived, one must have known and loved the area around St. Tropez – the relaxed atmosphere, the intense light, the brilliant earthen colors, dark tree silhouettes, azure seas. All life was conditioned around the sea, the beautiful Mediterranean. Signac, as much a sailor as a painter, while cruising off the coast of Southern France in 1892, discovered St. Tropez and installed himself and his mistress, Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange in a small house there – “La Hune” – to which he always returned and which was always home to him. Many of her paintings were likely painted at their home and reveal a remarkable talent for things of beauty – flowers, sunlight imbued colors, soft shady nooks, and symmetry of space prominent in this old seaport village.
Jeanne’s direct talent as an artist may be seen in the distinctive arrangement of her brilliant flower pieces, landscapes and still life paintings. Much of her work is admired and valued on account of its sincerity and a certain unrestrained quality of exhuberance that it shows. Her watercolors and oil paintings are full of rare and delicate colors, orange, yellow, rose, light blue and green. But she also uses greys, which make for glistening opalescent nuances. All of her work suggests a melancholy and tenderness which is filled with lyrical poetry.
Desgrange exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon des Indépendants beginning in 1909. Her work was included in the exhibition entitled Neo-Impressionism at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1968, and can be found at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Musee de L’Annonciade, St. Tropez.
Here we see nature painted in all the prismatic radiance of summer sunshine. This picture sparkles, it is scintillating with light – with the dancing pin-points of myriad hues and all the colors of the rainbow. It is a superb example of her work and is presented in pristine condition and is signed by the artist.