seurat sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte original
Why did he dedicate so much time to these preparatory sketches? As Pointillists, Seurat and Signac were particularly interested in playing with perception and experiment with optics, resulting in a comprehensive and meticulous painting process.
Seurat completed this monumental masterpiece in the 1880s. In order to craft the larger-than-life scene, the artist meticulously applied millions of hand-painted dots to the canvas. Seurat pioneered this technique when painting A Sunday Afternoon the the Island of La Grande Jatte, sparking the start of the Pointillist movement.
The Island of la Grande Jatte is located at the very gates of Paris, lying in the Seine between Neuilly and Levallois-Perret, a short distance from where La Défense business district currently stands. Although for many years it was an industrial site, it is today the site of a public garden and a housing development. When Seurat began the painting in 1884, the island was a bucolic retreat far from the urban center.
Seurat himself told a sympathetic critic, Gustave Kahn, that his model was the Panathenaic procession in the Parthenon frieze. But Seurat didn’t want to paint ancient Athenians. He wanted ‘to make the moderns file past . in their essential form.’ By ‘moderns’ he meant nothing very complicated. He wanted ordinary people as his subject, and ordinary life. He was a bit of a democract—a “Communard,” as one of his friends remarked, referring to the left-wing revolutionaries of 1871; and he was fascinated by the way things distinct and different encountered each other: the city and the country, the farm and the factory, the bourgeois and the proletarian meeting at their edges in a sort of harmony of opposites. 
With the release of this series Pelikan “K12 – the original”, we would like to make an exclusive suggestion for a topic for your next art lesson, by working with the Pelikan paintbox. Center of interest hereby is the work of the artist Georges Seurat.
First, the students draw in pencil a simple geometric shape with thin lines on a piece of paper. Alternativly, you can download and print out our templates, which can immediately be used in class.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Exhibition of Modern French Paintings from the Birch-Bartlett Collection, April–September, 1925, checklist no. 9.
Paris, Maison Dorée, 1, rue Laffitte, VIIIème Exposition de peinture, May 15–June 15, 1886, cat. 175.
Georges’ technique was subsequently called Pointillism and it’s known by that name to this day. However, the painter himself preferred to call his method chromo-luminarism, a term he felt better stressed the focus on color and light.
At first glance, the viewer sees many different people relaxing in a park by the river and nothing appears out of the ordinary. On the right, a fashionable couple is on a stroll. On the left, another well-dressed woman extends her fishing pole over the water. There is a small man with a black hat looking at the river, a white dog with a brown head, a man playing a horn, two soldiers standing at attention, a couple admiring their infant child, etc.