Georges-Pierre Seurat Grandcamp, Evening 1885, painted border c. 1888-89

  • Not on view

This painting is one in a series of seascapes Seurat painted in the French coastal village of Grandcamp during the summer of 1885. Short horizontal brushstrokes fill the sky and sea, and the land is composed of dots of color. "Some say they see poetry in my paintings," Seurat wrote. "I see only science." Dissatisfied with the technique of the Impressionists, which he considered spontaneous and unmethodical, Seurat turned to color theory and optics to develop his own method of painting, which he called Divisionism. Instead of mixing colors together on his palette, he applied unmixed paints to the canvas, leaving it to the viewer's eye to mix the colors optically. Seurat added the painted border later to complement the colors on the canvas and intensify its luminosity.

Gallery label from 2011.
Oil on canvas
26 x 32 1/2" (66.2 x 82.4 cm)
Estate of John Hay Whitney
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

Estate of the artist (Seurat family), 1891 [1]; Private collection, France [2]; Galerie de l'Elysée, Paris [3]; sold to Wildenstein, New York, 1948 [4]; sold to John Hay Whitney and Betsey Cushing Whitney, New York, 1949 [5]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1983 (Estate of John Hay Whitney) [6].

[1] Henri Dorra and John Rewald, eds. Seurat, Paris: Les Beaux Arts, 1959, no. 155: "Inventaire posthume, Atelier Seurat, no. 28; Famille Seurat, Paris." Signed on verso by Paul Signac.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Information provided by Wildenstein & Co., New York.
[4] See John Rewald, Georges Seurat, Paris: Albin Michel, 1948, p. 50, fig. 33: La Manche à Grandcamp. Provenance: "Collection particulière, U.S.A."
[5] Henri Dorra and John Rewald, eds. Seurat, Paris: Les Beaux Arts, 1959, no. 155. Included in the exhibition Seurat 1859-1992: Paintings and Drawings, Loan Exhibition, Knoedler Galleries, New York, April 19-May 7, 1949, no. 17 ("Lent by John Hay Whitney, Esq.").
[6] On loan from Ambassador and Mrs. John H. Whitney to the exhibitions Selections from 5 New York Private Collections, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 26-September 9, 1951, and Seurat, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 24-April 15, 1958 (no. 108).

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