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Georges SeuratGeorges Seurat

(suh rah') creator of the style of painting known as pointilism

Georges Seurat was born into a rich Paris family on December 2, 1859. His father, Antoine Chrysostom Seurat, a legal official and native of Champagne, spent as little time with his family as possible, but his mother, Ernestine Faivre, a native of Paris, provided a very caring and nurturing environment for her son. He first studied art with sculptor Justin Lequiene, and then attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, in 1878 and 1879. He subsequently did a year of service at the Brest military academy, and returned to Paris in 1880. Nothing else is known about his early life.

Bathers at AsnieresSeurat shared a small studio with two student friends before moving to his own studio, near his parents' home. He spent two years mastering the art of black and white drawing before taking up paint brushes, and displayed his first drawing, Aman-Jean, at the official Paris Salon in 1883. He spent the majority of 1883 working on his first major painting, Bathers at Asnières. After the huge painting was rejected by Paris Salon in 1884, he allied himself with independent Parisian artists, and, in 1884, helped form the Société des Artistes Indépendants, which rejected all formal exhibitions and salons. It was here that Seurat met and befriended fellow artist Paul Signac, to whom he introduced an entirely new style of painting known as pointilism, in which tiny brushstrokes of contrasting colors are used to portray the play of light. Although Signac and a few other painters were able to pick up some of Seurat's technique, he was never able to master it, and Seurat never attempted to teach the technique to anyone, not even his best friend.

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande JatteSeurat began working on his most famous work, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, in 1884, and spent the next two years working on nothing else. It was the centerpiece of an Independants exhibition in 1886.

In 1889, Seurat moved to a new studio, where he secretly lived with young model Madeleine Knobloch, who bore him a son in February 1890. Never very open about his private life, Seurat did not tell anyone about his mistress or his son until two days before his death, which came suddenly on March 29, 1891. The cause of his death has never been determined, but it is generally assumed that he died of some form of meningitis.

Throughout his short life, Seurat approached painting as much as a science as art. He studied color theories and the effects of different linear structures, and applied what he learned to his paintings and drawings. He approached every major work almost like a job, focusing almost all of his attention on that one work until it was completed. Although he produced some 500 drawings and 60 small paintings in his short career, he only produced one large painting a year, including the two already mentioned and Vase of Flowers, View of Fort Samson, Grandcamp (1885), The Lighthouse at Honfleur (1886), The Models (1888), La Parade (1889), and Le Chahut (1889-91).

The Complete Works of Georges Seurat
Renoir Fine Arts Investments
Web Museum

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  The Robinson Library > Fine Arts > Painting > France

This page was last updated on 02/04/2015.

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