Signac painted Cassis. Cap Lombard, Opus 196 in 1889 when he was visiting Cassis, a small fishing village in the region of Marseilles, on the coast of southern France. He was highly enthusiastic about the atmosphere and light in the village and made five paintings there, of which this is one. In a letter to Vincent van Gogh, dated 12 April 1889, Signac wrote, ‘white, blue, orange, harmonically dispersed in pretty undulations. All around mountains with rhythmic curves.’
Looking at the painting, it is clear how the artist has used colour to emphasise the character of the seascape. The dabs of colour bring the beach and dune to life through the multiplicity of kinds of yellow, eventually merging with the varied shades of blue of which the sea and sky are constructed. The dots of paint imbue the sun-drenched landscape with a sense of vibration, enhancing the evocation of a hot summer day. The diagonal line of the beach is reflected in that of the rocky point stretching out to sea. In this respect, the artist was probably inspired by Japanese prints, where decorative compositions of this kind are frequent. The great charm of the work lies in the tension of the composition and the serenity of the scene.