1884-86
Study for A Sunday on La Grande Jatte
Along the Seine, near Asnieres, was an island known as "La Grande Jatte." Paris had developed a new light rail system, making the city's outskirts accessible to those who traveled in large numbers on a Sunday afternoon, for a day in the country. Seurat's second major work, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, is his most famous.

In one of the early painted sketches shown here from 1884, Seurat's style of brush stroke continues to depart from that of his neo-impressionist contemporaries. The idea of drawing the viewer toward the shore, by having most of the figures facing to the left, is developed early in the process. Our attention is focused to the center of the painting, through the use of a shadow of an unseen tree in the foreground, coupled with the tree line in the background.

The Impressionists as a whole were inspired by the color work of the Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). Seurat's main inspiration for color theory was not a painter, but a scientist whom he had befriended named Eugene Chevreul, who wrote of the optical effects of placing certain colors next to one another. For example, when red is placed next to green, they are seen at varying wavelengths of light. When viewed from a distance, the retina of the human eye creates a glow of yellow at the meeting of the two. It is the viewer's eye, more than the artist's palette, that does the mixing of color. This effect is taken to new limits with the final execution of this work...
Home 1883-84 The Story 1888 1889-90 Forward