Seurat: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte
George Seurat’s masterpiece is among the most recognisable and frequently reproduced paintings in the world. First exhibited in 1896, La Grande Jatte is a visual manifesto that quickly became a landmark in the development of modern painting. In their quantity, intricacy and variety, the artist’s preparatory paintings and drawings reveal a compositional process that harks back to Old Master traditions and methods, which had been largely abandoned by Seurat’s immediate predecessors, the Impressionists. Seurat was not trying to re-create nature in paint. Rather, he wanted to reproduce images of modern life that would be as powerful and permanent as the pictures in the Louvre. The many preparatory studies, some of which were never used in the final composition, attest to the artist’s ambitions for his self-conscious masterpiece.