|Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, 1884|
(The Art Institute of Chicago)
Seurat, who exhibited this painting in the last Impressionist exhibit in 1886 was only 26 years old at the time. He came from a wealthy family who supported him throughout his life that ended at age 31. Georges Seurat started his artistic career with a very classical training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts but quit after a year and half. Following a mandatory year of military service, he continued working on black and white drawings and small scale paintings. Only four years after leaving art school, he started the project that would take two years to complete and end up to be this monumental canvas.
Georges Seurat was very interested in art from antiquity, in Greek and Roman sculptures. In his works there is a tension between the contemporary, popular culture and references to elite high art of Egyptian, Greek and Romans. He also looked to the work of early 19th century artists like Gustave Courbet, Francois Millet as well as Impressionists like Camille Pissaro.
|Jean-Francois Millet, The Gleaners, 1857|
|Georges Seurat, Farm Women at Work,|
(Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY)
Seurat's interest in luminosity, the linear design element and the extremely important edges of objects can all be found in his black and white drawings in conte crayon on Michallet paper. These drawings were not preliminary sketches but drawings done as finished works. He would fill in his subject with conte crayon and then take out the light areas by erasing them, darkening the edges so the lighter area would separate the figure from the background. The texture of the paper would not allow the crayon to absolutely soak into the paper, allowing the light of the background to shine through, enabling to create lightness.
|Georges Seurat, Aman-Jean, 1882-1883|
|Georges Seurat, The White Coat (The Woman with|
White Umbrella) 1883
|Georges Seurat, Eden Concert, 1886-1887|