Bathers at Asnieres was the first major work of Seurat, depicting a popular bathing spot along the River Seine outside of Paris. It is also the first of his works to have been prepared through the preliminary use of sketch studies, one of which is featured here.
We see one of the earlier sketches, or croquetons, entitled Horses in the Water. Seurat was fascinated with the work of his contemporaries among the new "impressionist" painters, including Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), Claude Monet (1840-1926), and Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). But while his early treatment of light and shade was similar, their spontaneous brush-stroke technique was unsuited to a man of such meticulous temperament. Still, we see some of Renoir's influence in Horses.
Seurat developed numerous sketches of various segments of the final work. He liked to paint rough sketches in oil on small panels of wood. He would also develop conte crayon drawings, using light and shade techniques influenced by the works of Rembrandt (1606-69) and Francisco de Goya (1746-1848). He would then combine these preliminary studies into his paintings.
Later croquetons of this work would incorporate more human figures. Seurat's more studied, laborious use of brush-strokes would continue to evolve...