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Information on Georges Seurat and his Post-Impressionism paintings.

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Example of Pointillism

I chose to complete my booklet on Georges Seurat simply because of his beautiful style. I really enjoyed getting to know Seurat as an artist, person, and Neo-impressionist. The way he creates entire masterpieces entirely out of simple dots and brushstrokes amazes me. As a kid, I would always use dots to form words instead of using straight lines, but now I cannot imagine the hard work and patience that it would take to create an entire landscape out of them. I have gained more understanding of the Pointillism technique through this project and am excited to make more connections to it in the future.

Kaylee Gillespie

Art History Honors

B I O G R A P H Y

       Georges Seurat was born December 2, 1859, in Paris. Having a distant relationship with his father, Seurat lived with his mother, brother Émile, and sister Marie-Berthe. After relocating to Fontainebleau during the Franco-Prussian War, the young Seurat took an interest in art and was given informal art lessons by his uncle. Later, Seurat attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he sketched from plaster casts and live models. Seurat conducted his own artistic studies and enjoyed visiting museums and libraries throughout Paris. Influenced by artists such as Charles Blanc, Michel-Eugène Chevreul, Claude Monet, and Camille Pissarro, Seurat was fascinated with color theories and the effect of color on the human eye. Seurat believed that "great things are done by a series of small things brought together," which assisted him in later developing his own technique, Pointillism.


Post-impressionism is "an umbrella term used to describe a variety of artists who were influenced by Impressionism, which is a light, spontaneous manner of painting, but took their art in different directions." While Seurat lived during a time of Post-impressionism, he led the movement for a new style of impressionism called Neo-impressionism.

Seurat was not the only Post-impressionist during the later 19th Century. Along with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cezanne, Seurat found his own unique way to express himself through Post-impressionism. He was, however, the first and most influential artist of the Neo-impressionism era.

After thoroughly studying color theories of countless other artists, Seurat began to place tiny, precise brush strokes of different colors close to one another so that they blend at a distance. Art critics gave his technique the name of Pointillism, which became Seurat's primary painting technique. 

Seurat inspired the famous Paul Signac, who later became the other most monumental Neo-impressionist.

Paul Signac: Place des Lices, Saint-Tropez (1893)

Signac was one artist inspired by Seurat's techniques with color and Pointillism.

N E O - I M P R E S S I O N I S M

Georges Seurat: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884)

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte is considered the signature work of Divisionism/Pointillism of Georges Seurat.

Young Woman Powdering her Face is a portrait of Seurat's mistress Madeleine Knobloch. Seurat's use of lighter pinks and blues add an affectionate tone to the painting and furthermore compliments the figure of his secret mistress. The painting has odd, bubbly proportions that lend a new expressiveness to his work. The vase in the top left corner adds a symbolic touch, for which I interpreted to represent his secretive relationship coming out into the light (even though her identity remained a secret after the painting was exhibited).

"Young Woman Powdering Herself"

1888

Oil on Canvas

Located at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London


In La Seine à la Grande-Jatte, Seurat returns to the site of the painting, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. This painting uses lighter color tones and more relaxed points, creating a much softer appearance than A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. The colors Seurat choose are appropriate when portraying a cool summer day.

"La Seine à la Grande-Jatte"

1888

Oil on Canvas 

Located at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels

"The Circus" is a painting of Seurat's later style accompanied with dynamic movement and vivid color. The figure in the first row of seats is said to be a friend of Seurat's, Charles Angrand, with a silk hat and a visible lock of hair. This was Seurat's last painting, but his clear technique of Pointillism is present. This is another one of my favorites because of the bright colorings and closeness of multiple shades of the same color. The scene is busy, which I like, and peaks the interest of the viewer through the many actions taking place. This painting brings a calming awe to it through the recognition of a calm day on the lake, or like a scene I have seen in a movie.

"The Circus" 

1890

Oil on Canvas

Located at Musée d'Orsay, Paris

"The Horse and Cart" is a piece by Seurat that highlights his use of Divisionism (strokes) more than his use of Pointillism (dots). Without his light, close brushstrokes, the trees in the background of the painting would seemingly have no texture. Most of the action in this painting takes place in the background, therefore this small detail adds significant impact to the overall painting. The lone horse appears stiff, not in motion.

"Horse and Cart"

1882

Oil on Canvas

Located at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

In "The Eiffel Tower", Seurat's use of tiny, consecutive brushstrokes creates the ultimate portrayal of Divisionism. His use of lighter colors blends well with the natural tones of the environmental aspects of the painting. The colors he chooses blend so well together that the viewer sees one image rather than the many brushstrokes that he uses. This is a personal favorite of mine because of the popularity of the Eiffel Tower today, and I really find his use of light blue colors in the sky appealing to the eye.

"The Eiffel Tower"

1889

Oil 

Located in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Aman-Jean and Seurat were both students and friends at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This drawing was Seurat's first exhibited work prior to his techniques in Pointillism. The dark tones in the drawing are a result form his chosen medium, and the position that Aman-Jean is painted in gives him a relaxed, timeless look.

"Aman-Jean"

1882

Conté crayon on Michallet paper 

Shown in Paris Salon of 1883


In "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte", city dwellers are seen gathered at a park on La Grande Jatte strolling, lounging, sailing, and fishing. This is Seurat's most famous piece because it introduces Pointillism. Instead of his smoother strokes with Divisionism, Seurat uses tighter, dot-like dabs of paint. The artist prepared for his final work by visiting La Grande Jatte many times. This piece contrasts to Impressionism pieces with its geometric shapes, measured proportions, and the overall monumental size.

"A Sunday on La Grande Jatte"

1884 

Oil on canvas

Located in the Art Institute of Chicago