A Sunday on La Grande Jatte


Seurat extensively studied color and how this was perceived, which led to his techniques called Pointillism and Divisionism.

artwork in context

Seurat is remembered as one of the first artists to innovate color theory and to apply it to his paintings, moving away from the Impressionist style that dominated the time.

historical overview

Seurat studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1878 to 1879, and this undoubtedly gave him classical training in Academic art and the rules related to it.

impressionism to post-impressionism

Seurat exhibited his painting Bathers at Asnières (1884) to the Academy’s Salon, but it was rejected due to its subject matter, specifically depicting men that were from the working-class Paris.

pointillism and divisionism

For Seurat, Pointillism consisted of painting dots that would make up the composition, however, the application of color was very important to obtain.

subject matter

There are women, men, children, and animals on an embankment of green grass with the River Seine to the left, with a variety of sailing boats and yachts.

subject matter

There are well over 30 people in this scene and when looking closely, everyone is going about their own leisurely business.

la grande jatte meaning

There has been scholarly debate as to why Seurat included certain motifs in the painting, possibly alluding to prostitution that took place on the island, where clients would meet.

color and technique

Seurat painted La Grande Jatte in three stages. He applied paint at a later stage due to his revised knowledge of color theory.

color and technique

During the first stage, he applied earthy colors like ochre and burnt sienna, emerald green, vermillion, iron oxide yellow, viridian, blues like cobalt, and ultramarine, red lake, and others including black.

the "confetti painter"

Seurat was dubbed as the “Confetti painter” because of the peculiar new style that he introduced into a conservative art world.