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Paul Signac was a self-taught artist influenced as a young man by Claude Monet and the Impressionists. He met Georges Seurat in 1884, whose divisionist style he readily adopted in figure painting, urban scenes and landscapes. Signac was a tireless proponent of an art of harmony and balance through color. He continued to promote these convictions after the death of Seurat in 1891. He organized exhibitions and lectures, and wrote articles in an attempt to convert younger artists to the neo-impressionist point of view.

Signac applied small laborious dots to canvas and paper; his methods were akin to those of Seurat but more scientific and richer in color and volume.

The French sea coast and harbor scenes became his primary subjects, and he was himself a skillful and ardent sailor.