Georges Seurat spent over two years painting A Sunday Afternoon, focusing meticulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original as well as completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He would go and sit in the park and make numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on the issues of color, light, and form.
Motivated by study in optical and color theory, Seurat contrasted miniature dots of colors that, through optical unification, form a single hue in the viewer’s eye. He believed that this form of painting, called divisionism at the time but now known as pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brush strokes. 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 in the Seine in Paris between La Defense and the suburb of Neuilly, bisected by the Pont-de-Levallois. 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 in 1886, dominating the second Salon of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, of which Seurat had been a founder in 1884.
The print is hand numbered and accompanied by a certificate signed by the Master Printer and bearing a matching number to the print.
Georges Pierre Seurat was a French Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman. He is noted for his innovative use of drawing media and for devising a technique of painting known as pointillism. 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. It is one of the icons of late 19th-century painting.
Seurat was born on the 2nd December 1859 into a wealthy family in Paris, France. His father, Antoine Chrysostome Seurat, was a legal official and a native of Champagne; his mother, Ernestine Faivre, was Parisian.
Georges Seurat first studied art with Justin Lequien, a sculptor. Seurat attended the École des Beaux-Arts in 1878 and 1879. After a year of service at Brest Military Academy, he returned to Paris in 1880. He shared a small studio on the Left Bank with two student friends before moving to a studio of his own. For the next two years, he worked at mastering the art of black-and-white drawing. He spent 1883 on his first major painting—a huge canvas titled Bathers at Asnières.
After his painting was rejected by the Paris Salon, Seurat turned away from such establishments, instead allying with the independent artists of Paris. In 1884 he and other artists (including Maximilien Luce) formed the Société des Artistes Indépendants. There he met and befriended fellow artist Paul Signac. Seurat shared his new ideas about pointillism with Signac, who subsequently painted in the same idiom. In the summer of 1884, Seurat began work on his masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which took him two years to complete.
Later he moved from the Boulevard de Clichy to a quieter studio nearby, where he lived secretly with a young model, Madeleine Knobloch, whom he portrayed in his painting “Jeune femme se poudrant”. In February 1890 she gave birth to their son, who was named Pierre Georges.
Seurat died in Paris on 29 March 1891 at the age of 31. The cause of Seurat’s death is uncertain and has been attributed to a form of meningitis. His son died two weeks later from the same disease.