Georges Pierre Seurat Biography | Oil Paintings
12- 2-1859 Paris, FRA - 3-29-1891 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Georges-Pierre Seurat studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was influenced by the precise draftsmanship of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, as well as with Chevreul's theories on color. He combined the Classicist tradition with the newer ideas of the Impressionists. In particular, he painted a very distinctive style using a multitude of different colored dots to build up the impression of the subject, much as the half-tone or multicolored photogravure use a screen of dots of varying intensity and depth to achieve the image.
By the end of the 1870's, the Impressionist movement was beginning to wane, although many of its leading figures were still painting. The premise of Impressionism on the relationship between natural light and the application of paint took a very interesting turn in the technique of Pointillism, whose principal exponent, Georges Seurat, was also a fine photographer. Obeying the laws of optics, every color was applied in the form of thousands of tiny distinct dots. Seen from a distance, these touches of color merge, recreating the transitions of light, his scenes were not painted “live”, but meticulously studied; the figures are not in motion but captured in absolute and perfect stillness.
Georges Seurat Key Work in the History of Art.
This precise method he termed Divisionism, and it was instrumental in the development of Pointillism. There is not much evidence of this technique, in his first major work depicting Bathers at Asnieres, but it becomes almost a trademark in his later paintings. Always meticulous in the execution of his work, Georges-Pierre Seurat was also painstaking in the preparation, often spending months on preliminary sketches for each canvas.
Michel Eugène Chevreul, a French chemist who restored tapestries was the most important influence on Georges-Pierre Seurat at the time; his great contribution was producing a color wheel of primary and intermediary hues. During his restorations, he noticed that the only way to restore a section was to take into account the influence of the colors around the missing wool. Chevreul discovered that two colors juxtaposed, overlapping or very close together, would have the effect of another color when seen from a distance and that the 'halo' that one sees after looking at a color is the opposing color, also known as complementary color.
A Sunday On La Grande Jatte has 5,832,592 million dots.
A Sunday On La Grande Jatte completed after an endless series of sketches, studies, and experiments, this large composition of 7 x 10 feet, whose full title is Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte, is a key work in the history of art and Seurat's most famous painting. La Grande Jatte is a small island park on the Seine where the Parisians used to stroll in the summer. Although he depicts a sunny afternoon, the atmosphere is anything but festive. The silent stillness of the figures suggests a melancholy solitude and a lack of communication that contrasts with the joie de vivre conveyed in Renoir's depiction of Sunday diversions. While the choice of subject matter and the painting's diffused luminosity are reminiscent of the Impressionist style, Seurat's sensitivity, technique and calculated compositional rhythm is at odds with the fleeting moments focused on by the Impressionists. This large painting has 5,832,592 million dots of paint and took two years to complete, one dot at a time.
Georges-Pierre Seurat died in Paris in his parents’ home at the age of 31. The cause of his death is unknown, his son died two weeks later. His last ambitious work, The Circus, unfinished at the time of his death, Seurat moved on from the vibrations of afternoon light to the unnatural, electric, vivid colors of the circus, in which gestures, expressions, and movements are exaggerated.
Art Movement: Impressionism, Pointillism.
Artists Influencing Georges Seurat: Eugene Chevreul, Ingres.
Painters Seurat Influenced: Paul Signac.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.