A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (French: Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte) painted in 1884, is Georges Seurat's most famous work. It is a leading example of pointillist technique, executed on a large canvas. Seurat's composition includes a number of Parisians at a park on the banks of the River Seine.
|A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte|
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Subject||People relaxing at la Grande Jatte, Paris|
|Dimensions||207.6 cm × 308 cm (81.7 in × 121.25 in)|
|Location||Art Institute of Chicago|
In 1879 Georges Seurat enlisted as a soldier in the French army and was back home by 1880. Later, he ran a small painter’s studio in Paris, and in 1883 showed his work publicly for the first time. The following year, Seurat began to work on La Grande Jatte and exhibited the painting in the spring of 1886 with the Impressionists. With La Grande Jatte, Seurat was immediately acknowledged as the leader of a new and rebellious form of Impressionism called Neo-Impressionism.
Seurat painted A Sunday Afternoon between May 1884 and March 1885, and from October 1885 to May 1886, focusing meticulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original and completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He sat in the park, creating numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on issues of colour, light, and form. The painting is approximately 2 by 3 meters (7 by 10 feet) in size.
Inspired by optical effects and perception inherent in the color theories of Michel Eugène Chevreul, Ogden Rood and others, Seurat adapted this scientific research to his painting. Seurat contrasted miniature dots or small brushstrokes of colors that when unified optically in the human eye were perceived as a single shade or hue. He believed that this form of painting, called Divisionism at the time (a term he preferred) but now known as Pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brushstrokes. The use of dots of almost uniform size came in the second year of his work on the painting, 1885–86. To make the experience of the painting even more vivid, he surrounded it with a frame of painted dots, which in turn he enclosed with a pure white, wooden frame, which is how the painting is exhibited today at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Island of la Grande Jatte is located at the very gates of Paris, lying in the Seine between Neuilly and Levallois-Perret, a short distance from where La Défense business district currently stands. Although for many years it was an industrial site, it is today the site of a public garden and a housing development. When Seurat began the painting in 1884, the island was a bucolic retreat far from the urban center.
The painting was first exhibited at the eighth (and last) Impressionist exhibition in May 1886, then in August 1886, dominating the second Salon of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, of which Seurat had been a founder in 1884. Seurat was extremely disciplined, always serious, and private to the point of secretiveness—for the most part, steering his own steady course. As a painter, he wanted to make a difference in the history of art and with La Grand Jatte, succeeded.
Seurat's painting was a mirror impression of his own painting, Bathers at Asnières, completed shortly before, in 1884. Whereas the bathers in that earlier painting are doused in light, almost every figure on La Grande Jatte appears to be cast in shadow, either under trees or an umbrella, or from another person. For Parisians, Sunday was the day to escape the heat of the city and head for the shade of the trees and the cool breezes that came off the river. And at first glance, the viewer sees many different people relaxing in a park by the river. On the right, a fashionable couple, the woman with the sunshade and the man in his top hat, are on a stroll. On the left, another woman who is also well dressed extends her fishing pole over the water. There is a small man with the black hat and thin cane looking at the river, and a white dog with a brown head, a woman knitting, a man playing a horn, two soldiers standing at attention as the musician plays, and a woman hunched under an orange umbrella. Seurat also painted a man with a pipe, a woman under a parasol in a boat filled with rowers, and a couple admiring their infant child.
Some of the characters are doing curious things. The lady on the right side has a monkey on a leash. A lady on the left near the river bank is fishing. The area was known at the time as being a place to procure prostitutes among the bourgeoisie, a likely allusion of the otherwise odd "fishing" rod. In the painting's center stands a little girl dressed in white (who is not in a shadow), who stares directly at the viewer of the painting. This may be interpreted as someone who is silently questioning the audience: "What will become of these people and their class?" Seurat paints their prospects bleakly, cloaked as they are in shadow and suspicion of sin.
In the 1950s, historian and Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch drew social and political significance from Seurat’s La Grande Jatte. The historian’s focal point was Seurat’s mechanical use of the figures and what their static nature said about French society at the time. Afterward, the work received heavy criticism by many that centered on the artist’s mathematical and robotic interpretation of modernity in Paris.
According to historian of Modernism William R. Everdell, "Seurat himself told a sympathetic critic, Gustave Kahn, that his model was the Panathenaic procession in the Parthenon frieze. But Seurat didn't want to paint ancient Athenians. He wanted 'to make the moderns file past ... in their essential form.' By 'moderns' he meant nothing very complicated. He wanted ordinary people as his subject, and ordinary life. He was a bit of a democract—a "Communard," as one of his friends remarked, referring to the left-wing revolutionaries of 1871; and he was fascinated by the way things distinct and different encountered each other: the city and the country, the farm and the factory, the bourgeois and the proletarian meeting at their edges in a sort of harmony of opposites."
The border of the painting is, unusually, in inverted color, as if the world around them is also slowly inverting from the way of life they have known. Seen in this context, the boy who bathes on the other side of the river bank at Asnières appears to be calling out to them, as if to say, "We are the future. Come and join us".
Seurat painted the La Grande Jatte in three distinct stages. In the first stage, which was started in 1884, Seurat mixed his paints from several individual pigments and was still using dull earth pigments such as ochre or burnt sienna. In the second stage, during 1885 and 1886, Seurat dispensed with the earth pigments and also limited the number of individual pigments in his paints. This change in Seurat's palette was due to his application of the advanced color theories of his time. His intention was to paint small dots or strokes of pure color that would then mix on the retina of the beholder to achieve the desired color impression instead of the usual practice of mixing individual pigments.
Seurat's palette consisted of the usual pigments of his time such as cobalt blue, emerald green and vermilion. Additionally, Seurat used then new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), predominantly for yellow highlights in the sunlit grass in the middle of the painting but also in mixtures with orange and blue pigments. In the century and more since the painting's completion, the zinc yellow has darkened to brown—a color degeneration that was already showing in the painting in Seurat's lifetime. The discoloration of the originally bright yellow zinc yellow (zinc chromate) to brownish color is due to the chemical reaction of the chromate ions to orange-colored dichromate ions. In the third stage during 1888-89 Seurat added the colored borders to his composition.
In 1923, Frederic Bartlett was appointed trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago. He and his second wife, Helen Birch Bartlett, loaned their collection of French Post-Impressionist and Modernist art to the museum. It was Mrs. Bartlett who had an interest in French and avant-garde artists and influenced her husband's collecting tastes. Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was purchased on the advice of the Art Institute of Chicago's curatorial staff in 1924.
In conceptual artist Don Celender's 1974–5 book Observation and Scholarship Examination for Art Historians, Museum Directors, Artists, Dealers and Collectors, it is claimed that the institute paid $24,000 for the work (over $354,000 in 2018 dollars).
In 1958, the painting was loaned out for the only time: to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. On 15 April 1958, a fire there, which killed one person on the second floor of the museum, forced the evacuation of the painting, which had been on a floor above the fire in the Whitney Museum, which adjoined MoMA at the time.
The May 1976 issue of Playboy magazine featured Nancy Cameron—Playmate of the Month in January 1974—on its cover, superimposed on the painting in similar style. The often hidden bunny logo was disguised as one of the millions of dots.
The painting and the life of its artist were the basis for the 1984 Broadway musical Sunday in the Park with George by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. Subsequently, the painting is sometimes referred to by the misnomer "Sunday in the Park".
In the Simpsons episode "Mom and Pop Art" (10x19), Barney Gumble offers to pay for a beer with a handmade reproduction of the painting.
The painting was the inspiration for a commemorative poster printed for the 1993 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, with racing cars and the Detroit skyline added.
The cover photo of the June 2014 edition of San Francisco magazine, "The Oakland Issue: Special Edition", features a scene on the shore of Lake Merritt that re-creates the poses of the figures in Seurat's painting.
|Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte - 1884, 1884-86, Smarthistory|
Events from the year 1886 in France.1886 in art
Events from the year 1886 in art.1887 in art
The year 1887 in art involved some significant events.Bathers at Asnières
Bathers at Asnières (French: Une Baignade, Asnières) is an oil-on-canvas painting by the French artist Georges Pierre Seurat, the first of his two masterpieces on the monumental scale. The canvas is of a suburban, placid Parisian riverside scene. Isolated figures, with their clothes piled sculpturally on the riverbank, together with trees, austere boundary walls and buildings, and the River Seine are presented in a formal layout. A combination of complex brushstroke techniques, and a meticulous application of contemporary colour theory bring to the composition a sense of gentle vibrancy and timelessness.
Seurat completed the painting of Bathers at Asnières in 1884, when he was twenty-four years old. He applied to the jury of the Salon of the same year to have the work exhibited there, but the jury rejected it. The Bathers continued to puzzle many of Seurat’s contemporaries, and the picture was not widely acclaimed until many years after the death of the artist at the age of just thirty-one. An appreciation of the painting’s merits grew during the twentieth century, and today it hangs in the National Gallery, London, where it is considered one of the highlights of the gallery’s collection of paintings.Divisionism
Divisionism (also called chromoluminarism) was the characteristic style in Neo-Impressionist painting defined by the separation of colors into individual dots or patches which interacted optically.By requiring the viewer to combine the colors optically instead of physically mixing pigments, Divisionists believed they were achieving the maximum luminosity scientifically possible. Georges Seurat founded the style around 1884 as chromoluminarism, drawing from his understanding of the scientific theories of Michel Eugène Chevreul, Ogden Rood and Charles Blanc, among others. Divisionism developed along with another style, Pointillism, which is defined specifically by the use of dots of paint and does not necessarily focus on the separation of colors.Georges Seurat
Georges-Pierre Seurat (French: [ʒɔʁʒ pjɛʁ sœʁa]; 2 December 1859 – 29 March 1891) was a French post-Impressionist artist. He is best known for devising the painting techniques known as chromoluminarism and pointillism. While less famous than his paintings, his conté crayon drawings have also garnered a great deal of critical appreciation. Seurat's artistic personality was compounded of qualities which are usually supposed to be opposed and incompatible: on the one hand, his extreme and delicate sensibility; on the other, a passion for logical abstraction and an almost mathematical precision of mind. His large-scale work, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884–1886), altered the direction of modern art by initiating Neo-impressionism, and is one of the icons of late 19th-century painting.HTO Park
HTO Park (stylized as HTO) is an urban beach in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, that opened in 2007. It is located west of Harbourfront Centre, on Lake Ontario.Helene Kröller-Müller
Helene Kröller-Müller (11 February 1869 – 14 December 1939) was one of the first European women to put together a major art collection. She is credited with being one of the first collectors to recognise the genius of Vincent van Gogh. She donated her entire collection to the Dutch people, along with her and her husband, Anton Kröller's, large forested country estate. Today it is the Kröller-Müller Museum and sculpture garden and Hoge Veluwe National Park, the largest national park in the Netherlands.
She was born Helene Emma Laura Juliane Müller at Essen-Horst, Essen, Germany, into a wealthy industrialist family. Her father, Wilhelm Müller, owned Wm. H. Müller & Co., a prosperous supplier of raw materials to the mining and steel industries. She married Dutch shipping and mining tycoon Anton Kröller in 1888 and used both surnames in accordance with Dutch tradition.
She studied under Henk Bremmer in 1906-1907. As she was one of the wealthiest women in the Netherlands at the time, Bremmer recommended that she form an art collection. In 1907, she began her collection with the painting Train in a Landscape by Paul Gabriël. Subsequently, Helene Kröller-Müller became an avid art collector, and one of the first people to recognise the genius of Vincent van Gogh. She eventually amassed more than 90 van Gogh paintings and 185 drawings, one of the world's largest collections of the artist's work, second only to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. She also bought more than 400 works by Dutch artist Bart van der Leck, but his popularity did not take off like van Gogh's.
Kröller-Müller also collected works by modern artists, such as Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, Diego Rivera, Juan Gris, Piet Mondrian, Gino Severini, Joseph Csaky, Auguste Herbin, Georges Valmier, María Blanchard, Léopold Survage and Tobeen. However, Bremmer advised her not to buy A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, which turned out to be an important icon of 20th-century art. She did purchase however Le Chahut by Seurat, another icon in the history of modern art. Also, she steered away from artists of her native Germany, whose work she found "insufficiently authoritative."On a trip to Florence in June 1910, she conceived the idea of creating a museum-house. From 1913 onwards parts of her collection were open to the public; until the mid-1930s her exhibition hall in The Hague was one of the very rare places where one could see more than a few works of modern art. In 1928, Anton and Helene created the Kröller-Müller Foundation to protect the collection and the estates. In 1935, they donated to the Dutch people their entire collection totaling approximately 12,000 objects, on condition that a large museum be built in the gardens of her park. Held in the care of the Dutch government, the Kröller-Müller Museum was opened in 1938.
The Kröller-Müller Museum is nestled in their 75-acre (300,000 m2) forested country estate, today the largest national park in the Netherlands, the Hoge Veluwe National Park near the town of Otterlo and Arnhem. A lavish art gallery was planned near their iconic lakeside Jachthuis Sint Hubertus hunting lodge and landscape statue of their close personal friend, the South African Boer General Christian de Wet on the estate. Due to threat of war the plans were never implemented in their lifetime but once the war was over a large forest sculpture garden and understated open exhibition extension was opened, housing statues by Rodin and the second largest collection of van Gogh paintings in the world, including the famous Sunflowers.List of modernist poets
This is a list of major poets of the Modernist movement.Léon Pourtau
Léon Pourtau (1872 – 4 July 1898) was a French painter and musician.
At the age of 15, an apprentice typesetter, Pourtau left Bordeaux for Paris. He worked in a small restaurant on the Rue Lafayette, where musicians gathered Orchestre Lamoureux. Thanks to them gets a job as a concert clarinetist in a Café-chantant. He toured with a circus band where he would help set up the tent and bathe the elephants. Back in Paris he entered the Conservatoire de Paris. During this period he married, had two children, and become a professor at the Conservatoire de Lyon at the age of 22 – the youngest ever.
He met George Seurat, himself also a musician, who taught him the impressionist technique. He took the opportunity of a concert tour in the US, which, after two years, earned him 20,000 Francs. At the annual exhibition of fine art held in Philadelphia over the winter of 1896–1897, he exhibited a painting, Quatre heures de l'après-midi (Four o'clock in the afternoon). This would be his only showing. Returning to Le Havre, Pourtau boarded the SS La Bourgogne. On 4 July 1898 she was sunk in collision in dense fog with the British sailing ship Cromartyshire off Sable Island (now belonging to Canada). The painter died in the accident.
His works are now in the collections of several art museums including the Museo Soumaya, Mexico City and the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.Models (painting)
Models, also known as The Three Models and Les Poseuses, is a painting by Georges Seurat, painted between 1886 and 1888 and held by the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
This painting, the third of Seurat's six major works, is a response to critics who criticized Seurat's technique for being cold and unable to represent life. Thus, the artist offers a nude, the same model, in three different poses. In the left background is part of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
It was exhibited at the fourth Salon des Indépendants in spring of 1888.There is a second version of this work, smaller in size, more in accord with the divisionism technique that Seurat had invented, and favoured by Seurat specialists. This version is on the cover of the catalogue for the 1991 Seurat exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting once belonged to the merchant Heinz Berggruen and is now part of the collection of the Paul Allen estate. In 1947, at the sale of the collection of Félix Fénéon, an early advocate and promoter of Seurat, France acquired studies for the painting that now reside in the Musée d'Orsay.Mont Sainte-Victoire (Cézanne)
Mont Sainte-Victoire is a series of oil paintings by the French artist Paul Cézanne.Neo-impressionism
Neo-Impressionism is a term coined by French art critic Félix Fénéon in 1886 to describe an art movement founded by Georges Seurat. Seurat's greatest masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, marked the beginning of this movement when it first made its appearance at an exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants (Salon des Indépendants) in Paris. Around this time, the peak of France's modern era emerged and many painters were in search of new methods. Followers of Neo-Impressionism, in particular, were drawn to modern urban scenes as well as landscapes and seashores. Science-based interpretation of lines and colors influenced Neo-Impressionists' characterization of their own contemporary art. The Pointillist and Divisionist techniques are often mentioned in this context, because it was the dominant technique in the beginning of the Neo-impressionist movement.
Some argue that Neo-Impressionism became the first true avant-garde movement in painting. The Neo-Impressionists were able to create a movement very quickly in the 19th century, partially due to its strong connection to anarchism, which set a pace for later artistic manifestations. The movement and the style were an attempt to drive "harmonious" vision from modern science, anarchist theory, and late 19th-century debate around the value of academic art. The artists of the movement "promised to employ optical and psycho-biological theories in pursuit of a grand synthesis of the ideal and the real, the fugitive and the essential, science and temperament."Pointillism
Pointillism () is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image.
Georges Seurat and Paul Signac developed the technique in 1886, branching from Impressionism. The term "Pointillism" was coined by art critics in the late 1880s to ridicule the works of these artists, and is now used without its earlier mocking connotation. The movement Seurat began with this technique is known as Neo-impressionism. The Divisionists, too, used a similar technique of patterns to form images, though with larger cube-like brushstrokes.Sunday in the Park with George
Sunday in the Park with George is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It was inspired by the French pointillist painter Georges Seurat's painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The plot revolves around George, a fictionalized version of Seurat, who immerses himself deeply in painting his masterpiece, and his great-grandson (also named George), a conflicted and cynical contemporary artist. The Broadway production opened in 1984.
The musical won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, two Tony Awards for design (and a nomination for Best Musical), numerous Drama Desk Awards, the 1991 Olivier Award for Best Musical and the 2007 Olivier Award for Outstanding Musical Production. It has enjoyed several major revivals, including the 2005-06 UK production first presented at the Menier Chocolate Factory and its subsequent 2008 Broadway transfer.The Two Sisters (Lemmen painting)
The Two Sisters, also known as The Serruys Sisters is an 1894 oil painting by Belgian artist Georges Lemmen, located in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which is in Indianapolis, Indiana. It uses pointillism to depict the sisters Jenny and Berthe Serruys.Topiary Park
Topiary Park (or Topiary Garden) is a 9.182-acre (3.716 ha) public park and topiary garden in Columbus, Ohio's Discovery District. The topiary garden is designed to depict figures from George Seurat's 1884 painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. It is the only park based entirely on a painting.The park was formerly known as Deaf School Park, or Old Deaf School Park, as it was part of the campus of the Ohio School for the Deaf. It is owned by the city of Columbus and maintained by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.Zinc chromate
Zinc chromate, ZnCrO4, is a chemical compound containing the chromate anion, appearing as odorless yellow powder or yellow-green crystals, but, when used for coatings, pigments are often added. It is used industrially in chromate conversion coatings, having been developed by the Ford Motor Company in the 1920s.Île de la Jatte
The Île de la Jatte or Île de la Grande Jatte is an island in the river Seine, located in the department of Hauts-de-Seine, and shared between the two communes of Neuilly-sur-Seine and Levallois. It is situated at the very gates of Paris, being 7 km distant (in a straight line) from the towers of Notre Dame and 3 km from the Place de l'Étoile. The island is nearly 2 km long and almost 200 m wide at its widest point, and has about 4,000 inhabitants. Its name translates as "Island of the Bowl" or "Island of the Big Bowl".
It is best known as the setting for Georges Seurat's pointillist oil painting, Un Dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte) (1884-6 and 1889), and also for the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical, Sunday in the Park with George.