Georges Seurat

French painter, who with fellow artist Paul Signac originated the influential theory and practice of neoimpressionism. Seurat was born in Paris and trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He rejected the soft, irregular brushstrokes of impressionism in favor of pointillism, a technique he developed whereby solid forms are constructed by applying small, close-packed dots of unmixed color to a white background. Many artists imitated Seurat's method, but, except in the work of Signac, his technique remained unequaled in its perfect blending of colors. Seurat derived many of his theories about painting from his study of contemporary treatises on optics. His scientific bent was also evident in his work habits, which included fixed hours and the meticulous systematization of his technique.

In 1884 Seurat completed Bathers at Asnieres (The National Gallery, London), a scene of boys in the Seine River and the first of six large canvases that would constitute the bulk of his life's work. In this and subsequent paintings, he continued the impressionist tradition of depicting holiday outings and entertainments. He departed from impressionist style, however, in his precise application of paint and in the suggestion of depth and volume in his scenes. His masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886, Art Institute of Chicago), achieves an atmosphere of monumental dignity through the balanced arrangement of its elements and the contours of its figures. Seurat's other large-scale works are The Models (1888, Barnes Foundation Collection, Merion, Pennsylvania), The Side Show (1889, Stephen Clark Collection, New York), The Chahut (1889-1891, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands), and The Circus (1890, Musee d'Orsay, Paris).

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