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  • George Seurat
    Dec 2, 1859 - Mar 29, 1891
  • A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - George Seurat was a French painter who was a leader in the neo-impressionist movement of the late 19th century, he is the ultimate example of the artist as scientist. He spent his life studying color theories and the effects of different linear structures. His technique for portraying the play of light using tiny brushstrokes of contrasting colours became known as Pointillism.
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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
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  • A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

  • George Seurat
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  • $557.95
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  • $1,405.95
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  • 1884-86
    Oil on canvas
    207.6 cm x 308 cm (81.7 in x 121.25 in)
    The Art Institute of Chicago, United States.

    Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was painted between 1884 and 1886. The depiction of a leisurely summer afternoon in a public park frequented by the Parisian bourgeois populace employed a theory based on current optical research. This research proposed dabs of color placed in close proximity on the canvas would resonate in a luminous blend on the viewer's retina. Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, shown at the final Impressionist exhibition, pioneered a more structured formal approach to art that came to be called Neo-Impressionism.

    "Seurat's Grande Jatte is one of those rare works of art that stand alone; its transcendence is instinctively recognized by everyone. What makes this transcendence so mysterious is that the theme of the work is not some profound emotion or momentous event, but the most banal of workaday scenes: Parisians enjoying an afternoon in a local park. Yet we never seem to fathom its elusive power. Stranger still, when he painted it, Seurat was a mere 25 (with only seven more years to live), a young man with a scientific theory to prove; this is hardly the recipe for success. His theory was optical: the conviction that painting in dots, known as pointillism or divisionism, would produce a brighter color than painting in strokes.

    "Seurat spent two years painting this picture, concentrating painstakingly on the landscape of the park before focusing on the people; always their shapes, never their personalities. Individuals did not interest him, only their formal elegance. There is no untidiness in Seurat; all is beautifully balanced. The park was quite a noisy place: a man blows his bugle, children run around, there are dogs. Yet the impression we receive is of silence, of control, of nothing disordered. I think it is this that makes La Grande Jatte so moving to us who live in such a disordered world: Seurat's control. There is an intellectual clarity here that sets him free to paint this small park with an astonishing poetry. Even if the people in the park are pairs or groups, they still seem alone in their concision of form - alone but not lonely. No figure encroaches on another's space: all coexist in peace.

    "This is a world both real and unreal - a sacred world. We are often harried by life's pressures and its speed, and many of us think at times: Stop the world, I want to get off! In this painting, Seurat has "stopped the world," and it reveals itself as beautiful, sunlit, and silent - it is Seurat's world, from which we would never want to get off."

    Text from "Sister Wendy's American Masterpieces"

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  • Dear Kaizhou - we received the painting today and absolutely love it!!! Thank you for being with me every step of the way. Now we will have it professionally framed and then on the wall it goes. It will be the only picture on the walls in the living room!

    I guess that concludes our business with you and again, you have been truly great to work with!!

    Thank you Kaizhou!

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  • I bought the 36x48 version of this piece which now hangs in my living room. The piece captures the composition and color of the original; it's like having a piece of the Chicago Museum in my living room. I wished I'd gotten the 48x72, which is closer in scale to the original, but there would have been no place for it in my home. But the just smaller piece fits the rooms scale and adds a great deal of character.

Other paintings by George Seurat:

Port-en-Bessin, Entrance to the Outer Harbor
Port-en-Bessin, Entrance to the Outer Harbor
The Channel at Gravelines, Petit-Fort-Philippe
The Channel at Gravelines, Petit-Fort-Philippe
On a Meadow Sitting Boy
On a Meadow Sitting Boy
Alfalfa Fields, Saint-Denis
Alfalfa Fields, Saint-Denis
George SeuratSeurat was born in Paris, 1859, died at the young age of thirty-one(1891), cutting his career as an artist (1882-1891) to under a decade. In his artwork, Seurat sought to return to the permanence and reflective nature of classical art that had been abandoned for the spontaneity of Impressionism. This goal was reflected in his painting methodology: Seurat would spend months planning a single canvas, drawing and redrawing studies and sketches. Due to his slow, meticulous method of painting, Seurat painted less than ten major works in his career. Nevertheless, his work and his divergence from the Impressionist view of art were influential in the development of Neo-Impressionism and subsequent art movements.

In 1878, Seurat enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he studied classical art under Henri Lehmann, a pupil of Ingres. However, after only a year and a half of formal training, Seurat left to pursue his own independent study to systematize the use of color. He took notes on works by Puvis de Chavannes and Delacroix and he read the aesthetic treatises of Michel Chevreul, Charles Blanc, O. N. Rood, and others. He systematize the methods used empirically by Corot and the Impressionists.

His first major painting, Bathers at Asnières (1883 - 4), was rejected by the Paris Salon in 1884 but exhibited by the newly formed Groupe des Artistes Indépendants. At the 1884 exhibition, Seurat met Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross, who collaborated with him in developing the method of Pointillism, the use of tiny dots of complimentary colors to create vibrant colors. The pointillist method was employed in his second major painting, Sunday on the Island of Grande Jatte (1884-6) which was exhibited at the eight and last Impressionist exhibition in 1886. Only a few months afterwards, Seurat began work on Models, which he exhibited in 1888 at the fourth exhibition of the Societe des Artistes Independants.

Seurat's changing social circle may have been influential in causing Seurat to gain an interest in politicizing the message of his works while losing interest in the innovation of color. Before the exhibition of Bathers in 1884, Seurat was good friends with Edmond Aman-Jean, a friend that Seurat knew from the classical art school the Ecole de Beaux Arts. (Leighton 14) However, from the exhibition onward, Seurat became good friends with artists such as Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro, Henri Edmond-Cross, and others. (Herbert 83) These artists, most of who belonged to the Societe des Artistes Independants, were more radical than Seurat's Ecole friends both artistically and politically. In October 1885, Seurat also became friends with a group of writers known as the Symbolists who sought to revolutionize their art by emphasizing "the evocation of mood and underlying reality rather than the precise rendition of nature". (Leighton 133) Seurat became so involved in this social group of artists and writers that from 1886 onwards, "Seurat effectively belonged to a small and esoteric avant-garde whose activities were confined almost exclusively within a square kilometer". (Smith)Though hardly anything is known about the political beliefs of Seurat, journalist Felix Feneon argued by default that "one can assume that Seurat shared the views of his friends, because his literary and artistic comrades…belonged to anarchist circles, and if his opinions had been opposed to theirs it would have been noticed." (qtd Thomson 95) Whether or not Seurat was a leftist, after the 1884 exhibition of Bathers, he was increasingly exposed to anarchism and criticisms of the bourgeoisie. This may have contributed to his interest in satirizing the bourgeoisie as he did in Grande Jatte, and contrasting them with working class as he does in Models.