This lively watercolour sketch shows a row of sailboats lined up for the start of a race. Below to the right, the word “Reveile” (sic) likely refers to the alarm signal that marks the start of the race. Executed in quickly wavy strokes of chalk and watercolour, it conforms to the style of sketch that Signac developed as his process for conceiving of larger painted compositions. The use of graph paper also suggests he intended to transfer this sketch to canvas. His composition, with the diagonal line of boats sloping to the right and the rowboat protruding from the left edge, repeats that of several paintings he produced in the early 1890s.Famous as the devoted follower and champion of the pointillist works of Georges Seurat, Signac went on to become a central figure for the development of art in France in the wake of Impressionism. Born in 1863 and initially educated as an architect, he turned to painting after studying the works of Claude Monet in 1881. In 1884 he met the artist, and also Georges Seurat, whose work he began to follow, drawn to its scientific approach to colour. In 1886 he met Vincent van Gogh and painted with him, later visiting him in Arles in 1889. In 1888 he adopted Anarchist ideals, joining Camille Pissarro and Maximilien Luce, offering financial support to the publication Les temps nouveaux. He also supported the Fauves and the Cubists in their early years. He served as President of the Société des Artistes Indépendants from 1908 until his death. A sailing afficionado, Signac began to travel in 1892, going as far as Istanbul. The location of this scene is not identified, but is likely the French coast. From 1913 he occupied a house in Antibes with his mistress Jeanne Selmersheim-Desgrange, with whom he had a daughter, Ginette, the earliest known owner of the present work.