After training in the cole des Beaux Arts, he broke free of convention. Requiring his technique a step beyond Impressionism, he painted with little strokes of pure colour that look to combine when seen from a distance. Seurat’s career was cut short when he died of sickness on March 29, 1891, in Paris. His dad, Antoine-Chrysostome Seurat, was a customs official who was frequently from home. Seurat and his brother, Emile, and sister, Marie Berthe, were raised mostly by their mother, Ernestine (Faivre) Seurat, in Paris. Seurat received his first art lessons from an uncle. He started his formal art education around 1875, when he started attending a nearby art school and studying under sculptor Justin Lequien.
From 1878 to 1879, Georges Seurat was registered in the well-known cole des Beaux Arts in Paris, where he received training under artist Henri Lehmann. Yet, feeling frustrated using the school’s rigorous academic approaches, he left and continued to study by himself. He respected the newest large scale paintings of Puvis de Chavannes, as well as in April 1879, he seen the Fourth Impressionist Exhibition and saw revolutionary new works by Impressionist painters Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. The Impressionists’ ways of conducting light and feeling affected Seurat’s own thinking about painting. Seurat was also thinking about the science behind artwork, and he did a whole lot of reading on understanding, color theory as well as the emotional ability of line and type. Seurat displayed a drawing in the yearly Salon, an important state-sponsored exhibit, for the very first time in 1883.
Instead of mixing colours together on his palette, he dabbed miniature strokes or “points” of pure colour onto the canvas. When he set colours side by side, they might seem to combine when seen from a space, creating luminous, shimmering colour effects through “optical mix.” He and his co-workers frequently took inspiration from the roads of town, from its cabarets and clubs, and from the parks and landscapes of the Paris suburbs.
Seurat’s first important work was “Bathers at Asnires,” dated 1884, a large scale canvas revealing a picture of laborers relaxing alongside a river outside Paris. “Bathers” was followed by “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” (1884 86), an even bigger work depicting middle class Parisians wandering and resting in a isle park on the Seine River. (This painting was shown in the Eighth Impressionist Exhibition in 1886.) In both works, Seurat attempted to give modern day figures a feeling of importance and permanence by simplifying their forms and restricting their elements; at once, his experimental brushwork as well as colour blends kept the pictures graphic and engaging.
Seurat painted female subjects in “The Models” of 188788 and “Young Woman Powdering Herself” of 188889. In the late 1880s, he created several pictures of circuses and nightlife, including “Circus Sideshow” (1887 88), “Le Chahut” (1889 90) and “The Circus” (1890 91). He also made numerous seascapes of the Normandy shore, along with several masterful black and white drawings in Cont crayon (a mixture of wax and graphite or charcoal).
Seurat expired on March 29, 1891, in Paris, following a short illness that was most likely pneumonia or meningitis. He was entombed in the Pre Lachaise cemetery in Paris. He was survived by his common law wife, Madeleine Knobloch; their son, Pierre-Georges Seurat, died a month after. This painting, and Seurat’s profession, inspired Steven Sondheim to compose the musical Sunday in the Park with George (1984). The work can also be featured in the John Hughes movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).