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Gallery Text

This is the only still life Seurat is known to have painted, and it is a rare surviving example of his early work, as it is believed that the artist destroyed most of those canvases. In its subject and predominant use of red pigments, it aligns with French academic trends of the 1870s, particularly artists’ interest in flower painting and in the late work of the romantic painter Eugène Delacroix. Nevertheless, several aspects of the painting hint at the development of Seurat’s signature style, known as pointillism, in which he juxtaposed small dabs of contrasting pure colors. The vertical strokes of repeated colors covering the background represent a technique Seurat experimented with in other work from this period. The crisscrossing patchwork of blue and brown brushstrokes in the shadow cast by the vase onto the tablecloth approximates the technique he would cultivate in his later oil sketches, like the example hanging nearby.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Georges Pierre Seurat, French (Paris 1859 - 1891 Paris)
Vase of Flowers
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Vase de Fleurs / Bouquet dans un Vase
Work Type
c. 1879-c. 1881
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
46.3 x 38.5 cm (18 1/4 x 15 3/16 in.)
framed: 72 x 64.4 x 8.3 cm (28 3/8 x 25 3/8 x 3 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: On stretcher, in blue pencil: 47019F
  • inscription: Back of frame, in blue pencil: 47019
  • inscription: Back of frame, in white chalk: B[rest is illegible]
Georges Pierre Seurat, (c. 1878 - ?); to his brother-in-law M. Léon Appert ( - 1925); to his daughter Mme. Léon Roussel (1925 - 1934); to her son François Roussel, (1934 - 1939) sold; to [Galerie Bignou, (1939 - 1940) sold]; to Maurice Wertheim, New York, (1940-1951), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.

Not in the possession of the Fogg until 1974.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

A Selection of 19th Century Paintings, auct. cat., Galeries Bignou (New York, NY, 1942), no. 15

John Rewald, Georges Seurat, Wittenborn & Co. (New York, NY, 1943), no. 46, repr. as pl. 81

Edward Alden Jewell, French Impressionists and Their Contemporaries in American Collections, Hyperion Press (New York, NY, 1944), repr., plate 175

Alfred M. Frankfurter, "Today's Collectors: Modern Milestones", Art News (June 1946), vol. XLV, no. 4, p. 64

French Painting since 1870, lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), p. 18, repr. p. 19

John Rewald, Georges Seurat, Albin Michel (Paris, France, 1948), pl. 17

Six Masters of Post-Impressionism, exh. cat., Wildenstein & Company (New York, NY, 1948), no. 46

La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), no. 8, pp. 23-24

Jacques De Laprade, George Seurat, Somogy (Paris, France, 1951), repr. p. 6

Charles Sterling, La Nature Morte de L'Antiquite a Nos Jours, Editions Pierre Tisné (Paris, France, 1952), repr. in b/w p. 95, text p. 90

Henri Dorra and John Rewald, Seurat: L'oeuvre peint, biographie et catalogue critique (Paris, France, 1959), cat. no. 7

The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 52, repr. p. 53

César M. de Hauke, Seurat et son Oeuvre, Grund (Paris, France, 1961), cat. no. 3

The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 48

Fiorella Minervino and André Chastel, L'Opera Completa di Seurat (Milan, Italy, 1972), no. 5

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), no. 33

John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 12, pp. 70-71, repr. p. 71

Michael F. Zimmermann, "Seurat, Charles Blanc, and Naturalist Art Criticism", Museum Studies, The Art Institute of Chicago (1989), vol. XIV, no. 2, repr. in b/w fig. 3, p. 203; text, p. 202

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 129; repr. as no. 401

Catherine Grenier, Seurat: Catalogo Completo dei dipinti, Cantini Editore (Florence, Italy, 1990), repr. in color pl. 5, p. 19

The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color no. 19, p. 69

"Entretien avec Françoise Cachin: Seurat au Grand Palais", Dossier de l'art (April 1991 - May 1991), repr. in color p. 5

Robert L. Herbert, Georges Seurat, 1859-1891, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1991), no. 74, p. 148-149; repr. in color

Robert L. Herbert, Georges Seurat: 1859-1891, exh. cat., Metropolitan Museum of Art / Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1991), no. 75, pp. 108-109; repr. in color

Michael F. Zimmermann, Seurat and the Art Theory of his Time, Fonds Mercator (Antwerp, 1991), repr. in color no. 96, p. 67; text p. 66

Sarah Carr-Gomm, Seurat, Studio Editions (London, England, 1993), repr. in color p. 47; text p. 46

Dina Anchin, "Refining Style: Technical Investigation of an Early Work by Georges Pierre Seurat in the Maurice Wertheim Collection" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2013), Unpublished

Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6

Exhibition History

Seurat et ses amis, Galerie Beaux-Arts (Paris), Paris, 12/01/1933 - 01/31/1934

A Selection of Nineteenth Century French Paintings, Bignou Gallery, New York, 02/01/1942 - 02/28/1942

French Painting since 1870 lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1946 - 09/07/1946; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 07/01/1953 - 09/13/1953

La Peinture Française depuis 1870, Musée de la Province de Quebec, 07/12/1949 - 08/07/1949

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 07/01/1952 - 09/14/1952

French Paintings Since 1870 from the Maurice Wertheim Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/01/1953 - 09/30/1953

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 06/15/1957 - 09/15/1957

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 06/10/1958 - 08/31/1958

The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 06/13/1962 - 09/02/1962

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 06/20/1963 - 09/01/1963

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, 06/24/1965 - 09/07/1965

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 09/03/1968 - 09/22/1968

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, 06/01/1971 - 09/30/1971

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Maine State Museum, Augusta, 06/01/1972 - 09/01/1972

Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977

Manet to Matisse: The Maurice Wertheim Collection, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 04/09/1985 - 05/25/1985

The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990

Seurat, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 04/09/1991 - 08/12/1991

Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 1220 Wertheim, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

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