seurat a sunday afternoon
The huge work (7 feet in height; 10 feet in width) caused a sensation. Not only did it exude a shimmering impression of warm, hazy sunshine, but the stylized, statuesque nature of its figure painting exuded a timeless and monumental quality. Unlike the fleeting naturalism of Monet (1840-1926) and Renoir (1841-1919), which captured the momentary perceptions of the artist, La Grande Jatte was painstakingly planned from start to finish in the manner of a Greek frieze, and its (often) symbolic content positively invites careful scrutiny.
The painting depicts fashionable Parisians enjoying a Sunday afternoon at a popular beauty spot located on the River Seine between Neuilly and Levallois-Perret. While his earlier Bathers at Asnieres depicted the working class left-bank of the river, this work shows the bourgeois right-bank at La Grande Jatte. Thus, for instance, in contrast to the unremitting heat of Asnieres, La Grande Jatte has plenty of cool shade in which to escape the sun.
According to historian of Modernism William R. Everdell:
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (French: Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte) painted in 1884, is Georges Seurat’s most famous work.  It is a leading example of pointillist technique, executed on a large canvas. Seurat’s composition includes a number of Parisians at a park on the banks of the River Seine.
Over the course of art history, certain pieces have come to symbolize entire artistic genres. Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and Michelangelo’s David, for example, define the Italian Renaissance; The Scream by Edvard Munch epitomizes Expressionism; and Pointillism is typified by Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon the the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Georges Seurat began painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in the spring of 1884. During this time, the artist lived and worked alongside the Impressionists in Paris. Like these artists, Seurat often painted scenery found just outside of the French capital, including La Grande Jatte, a Seine River island situated to the west of Paris.
Editors’ Tip: Seurat and the Making of ‘La Grande Jatte’
Seurat’s use of this highly systematic and near-scientific technique  distinguished his art from the endlessly more intuitive approach to painting used by the Impressionists. Georges may have embraced the subject matter of modern life preferred by artists such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, but the way he depicted it on canvas couldn’t be any more different from the techniques of his peers.
Seurat started his project in May of 1884 and intended it to be exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants of 1885 but the exhibition was cancelled. The change in plans meant that Seurat went back to add details to the work and these mainly consisted of his most recent thoughts on color and its use in paintings. Seurat also changed the shapes of some of his figures in order to create more sinuous rhythms.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte