Private Collection, California;
The Private Collection of Mr. Alexander Avenard
Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange was born into a family in which the women had been artists and costume designers, the men architects and draftsmen. She began in the decorative arts herself then, after her marriage to Selmersheim ended (she retained the name), she met Paul Signac and became his life partner.
Although she had had considerable training already, it was Signac who became her teacher. Through this relationship Selmersheim-Desgrange embraced the Neo-Impressionist pointillist style for which Signac had developed alongside Paul Seurat. Her paintings were highly celebrated and went on to be exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon des Indépendants beginning in 1909.
Selmersheim-Desgrange’s direct talent as an artist may be seen in the distinctive compositions of her brilliant still lifes and landscapes. Her watercolours and oil paintings are executed with a delicate palette of orange, yellow, rose, light blue and green pastel tones. But she also uses greys, which make for glistening opalescent nuances. Signac and Selmersheim-Desgrange lived in a small house in the South of France – “La Hune” and throughout her association with Signac, Jeanne was happy and most contented to stay in the shadows of “her great master.”
In 1913 Signac rented a charming house in Antibes, where he settled with Jeanne shortly before the birth of their daughter Ginette. The relaxed atmosphere, the intense light, the brilliant earthen colors, and azure seas all helped to form Selmersheim-Desgrange’s aesthetic. Life in the South of France was focused around the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, and Selmersheim-Desgrange’s most spectacular works are those composed of view from a balcony looking onto the glistening Mediterranean beyond. Her own work is filled with, and reflects a true feminine sensitivity, in both the colouring and subject matter.