Georges Seurat [1859-1891]

Self portrait
French post-Impressionist artist

Georges Seurat

was born,
December 2, 1859
in Paris, France, at 60 rue de Bondy.

He is best known for devising the painting techniques known as chromoluminarism as well as pointillism. While less famous than his paintings, his conté crayon drawings have also garnered a great deal of critical appreciation. Seurat’s artistic personality combined qualities that 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.

Poised between Impressionism in the 19th century, and Fauvism and Cubism in the early-20th, Neo-Impressionism brought with it a new awareness of the surface qualities of painting, and of decorative effects, thereby contributing to the development of abstraction.

At the start of his career, Seurat followed a traditional path: taught to paint by a pupil of Ingres, Henri Lehman, at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris; studying the works of early Italian and 17th-century French artists in the Louvre; and then exhibiting at the official Salon. His drawings in Conté crayon allowed for very subtle tonal gradation; they shimmer in a manner akin to the effect created by Seurat’s pointillist painting technique.

Seurat combined a traditional approach, based on his academic training, with a study of modern techniques, such as Impressionism. He also applied ideas from contemporary optical theories of colour relationships. Seurat’s disciplined work, which contrasts with that of many of his Impressionist contemporaries, was very influential.

So here’s a glimpse of his work & words

Gray weather, Grande Jatte

“Painting is the art of hollowing a surface.”

The Laborers
The Eiffel Tower
Study for A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte

“Harmony is the analogy of contrary and similar elements of tone, of color, and of line, conditioned by the dominant key, and under the influence of a particular light, in gay, calm, or sad combinations.”

The Morning Walk [National Gallery]
View of Fort Samson

“They see poetry in what I have done. No. I apply my methods, and that is all there is to it.”

The Suburbs
Overgrown slope

“Originality depends on the character of the drawing and the vision peculiar to each artist.”

At the Concert Européen (Au Concert Européen)
Models (Les Poseuses)
Study after “The Models”
The Seine and la Grande Jatte – Springtime

“Art is Harmony. Harmony is the analogy of opposites, the analogy of similarities of tone, of tint, of line taking account of a dominant and under the influence of the lighting, in combinations that are gay calm or sad.”

Flowers in a vase
Landscape at Saint-Ouen
L’Écho, study for Une Baignade, Asnières
Circus Sideshow (Parade de Cirque)
Detail from Circus Sideshow (Parade de Cirque)
Jeune femme se poudrant

“Sadness of tone is the dark dominant; of tint, the cool dominant, and of line, downward directions.”

A River Bank (The Seine at Asnières)
Grandcamp, Evening

The Rainbow, Study for ‘Bathers at Asnières’

“The means of expression is the optical mixture of tones, of tints (of local color and the illuminating color: sun, oil lamp, gas, etc.), that is, of the lights and of their reactions (shadows) following the laws of contrast, of gradation, of irradiation.”

The Seine seen from La Grande Jatte
Child in White
The Circus
Bathers at Asnières

“The frame [is no longer as in the beginning version] is in a harmony opposed to those of the tones, tints, and lines of the [motif of the] picture.”

Clothes on the Grass Study for ‘Bathers at Asnières’
Seated Nude, Study for Une Baignade
Le Chahut

La Divina

Maria Callas [1923-1977]

was also born on this day,

2 December 1923

so we listen to

Vissi d’Arte

from Giacomo Puccini* opera: Tosca

[* also born in December!]

her final appearance on the operatic stage, In Covent Garden, 1964,

For more information on Seurat:


Be Safe

13 replies »

  1. I did not know this artist, and do not recognize any of his works.
    I must say… the pieces that are kind of B&W, but more Black&Sepia are my faves.
    Not to sound shallow, but I have models, too!!!!
    The Maria Callas piece is fab. I would have not listened to this 5 years ago, but now with Charlotte singing like “a greedy little song bird” (quote from the movie Amadeus), I am IN!
    Thank you for this, Marina!!! xoxoxoxoxo

    • I’m glad you enjoyed his paintings. His work looks especially nice in life. Pixels really don’t do him justice!
      MC used to be my idol before starting classical singing courses (I’m a soprano coloratura). I still adore her but appreciate more other great sopranos for their natural talents.
      Love that quote btw!!!!! …what a movie too!!!
      Sending love and many many hugs!!!!!

  2. Your mention of Seurat’s “passion for logical abstraction and an almost mathematical precision of mind” makes me wonder what math courses he took in school, how he did in them, and whether he ever acknowledged any artistic influences they had on him. “I lived for art” is an appropriate operatic accompaniment.

  3. I believe you’re providing an online art history course! In one aspect, Seurat was a precursor to the digital pixel, part of the movement starting with da Vinci’s mathematical grid as a new way to perceive reality. (I could be wrong about this!) Don’t think I’m a fan, but that’s merely subjective. However, some of his work you provide us with is magnificent. Seated Nude and L’Echo for instance. Hugs!!

    • Oh, I hardly have the expertise to do so. Just a small journey to painters work. You are right about the ‘precursor to the pixel’ and funny enough actual pixels aren’t doing him justice at all! His work looks so much better in life. I know this goes for all painters but pointilism pixeled really isn’t nice! 😉 Not a huge fan either, but like you, I really enjoy some of his paintings and even more looking at details of his work. Many hugs to you!!! 🤗😘

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