After attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Lille, Cross moved to Paris in 1881 and immediately exhibited in the official Salon. His early style of painting was influenced by Bastien-Lepage, Monet and the Impressionists. In 1884, he became a founding member of the Salon des Artistes Independent exhibiting there until his death. Adopting the pointillist technique in 1891, the artist employed this style with increasing freedom in later years. When Georges Seurat died in 1891, Cross and his good friend Paul Signac moved to the south of France and developed the pointillist technique into a second phase called Divisionism, employing large mosaic-like brushstrokes that eventually influenced Fauve and Cubist painters. Living in Saint-Clair, a village between the Mediterranean and the Alps, Cross drew inspiration from the colorful sun-drenched landscapes.
This work is from a period in which successful in his research, rich from his friendships and influences, the artist interprets divisionism in his own distinctive fashion with large and regular constructive brushstrokes, employing essentially complementary colors.
In this free composition, the influence of japonisme is perceptible. At his feet, a mosaic of greens, mauves, pinks, violets and oranges are harmonious with the different gradations of blues in the water, the movement of the waves combed with white lively foam which roll towards the beach corresponding with the horizon bleached by the sky.
Les Premiers Indépendants, Grand Palais, Paris, 1965