“Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science.”
— Georges Seurat
George Seurat was born on this day in Paris, France in 1859. Today is the 153rd anniversary of his birth.
He was born to a wealthy family. His father was distant and taciturn.
At every available opportunity, Antoine-Christophe took leave of his family and disappeared to his villa in the suburbs to grow flowers and say mass in the company of his gardener; he was only at home on Tuesdays. Seurat’s mother was quiet and unassuming, but it was she who gave some warmth and continuity to his childhood. [Renoir Fine Art Inc.]
The family lived on the Boulevarde de Magenta near “Le Parc des Butte-Chaumont” and Georges and his mother often strolled through the park together. He revisited the park in his paintings. Seurat was a quite young man with a gentle voice. He always dressed in a dignified manner. Friends teased him that his tall handsome appearance made him look like a department store model. But he “was serious and intense preferring to spend his money on books rather than on food or drink.” [Ibid]
He went to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1878. He preferred pointillism over the soft brushstrokes of impressionism. He took a scientific approach to painting, working “fixed hours and (using a) meticulous systematization of his technique.” [Ibid]
He painted six huge canvas paintings that represent the bulk of his artistic output. The first, painted in 1813 (and taking almost the entire year to complete) was Bathing at Asnieres.
Next came La Grande Jatte. He spent two years on La Grande Jatte, going to the same spot every day for months. There he would sketch in the morning, then in the afternoon he would return to his studio and paint on his giant canvas.
Le Grande Jatte “made” Seurat. He took a studio next to fellow pointillist Signac in Montmartre.
Here he was surrounded by artists ranging from the conservative decorator Puvis de Chavannes, whom he greatly admired, to more progressive contempories including Degas, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. He was at the center of artistic debates, but he kept aloof from them. [Renoir Fine Art Inc.]
Likewise he keep aloof about pricing his paintings. He didn’t need to worry about money like some of his fellow artists.
He settled into an annual routine of painting large canvas s in his studio during the winter and doing smaller marine paintings at one of the Normandy Ports in the Summer.
His other large canvas paintings include Le Cirque (1890), The Models (1888), La Parade (1889), and Le Chahut (1891).
Seurat died at the age of 31 from meningitis in March of 1891.
- The Great Artist Georges Seurat… A Study in Pointillism (mysmallpotatoes.com)