June 29, 2009
Sunday in the Park with George or Answer to First Impressions # 5
The George famous for 1,000 points of light is Georges Seurat, not George Bush.
Born 1859, Georges-Pierre Seurat didn’t even make it to the age of 32. In his short career, this French painter and draughtsman produced highly sophisticated drawings and invented the technique of painting known as pointillism. He was the leading figure in the Neo-Impressionism movement.
Seurat was interested in science as well as art, especially scientific colour theory. His aim in his paintings was to separate each colour into its component parts – this process is called Divisionism. Instead of using his palette to mix colours, he allowed them to be blended optically and in order to do this, each colour had to be applied in a small dot of pigment.
Born into a wealthy Parisian family (aren’t they all?) Georges attended the École des Beaux-Arts in 1878 and 1879. After a year of military service, he spent the next two years devoting himself to mastering the art of black and white drawing.
His first major painting, a huge canvas titled Bathers at Asnières (1883) was rejected by the Paris Salon. Seurat then shunned the Salon, instead allying himself with the independent artists of Paris.
Seurat's most celebrated demonstration of pointillism, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, was started in 1884 and finished two years later.
Seurat lived secretly with a young model, Madeleine Knobloch, (Garlic, in German) whom he portrayed in his painting Jeune Femme se Poudrant. In February 1890 she gave birth to his son. It was not until two days before his death that Seurat introduced his young family to his parents.
The cause of Seurat’s death is uncertain. His last ambitious work, The Circus,was left unfinished.