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Gallery Text

Seurat made roughly thirty oil studies in preparation for his enormous masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which he exhibited at the final impressionist exhibition in 1886. It depicts an array of bourgeois figures lounging on La Grande Jatte (The Big Bowl), an island in the Seine located just outside Paris. Studies such as this one focus on a select group of figures, and though they often depart from the finished composition, this scene’s trees, riverbed, and white umbrella do appear in the middle ground of the final painting. Seurat’s technique, in which he allowed the dark wood panel to show through in his oil studies, rather than covering it with a light white ground, distinguished his work from that of the impressionists, leading the critic Félix Fénéon to characterize his approach as “neoimpressionism.”

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Georges Pierre Seurat, French (Paris 1859 - 1891 Paris)
Seated Figures, Study for "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"
Work Type
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 panel
16.2 x 25.5 cm (6 3/8 x 10 1/16 in.)
framed: 38.1 x 47.9 x 8 cm (15 x 18 7/8 x 3 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: Seurat
  • inscription: Inscribed in red paint in a manner referred to as "cachet Moline" after the dealer responsible for the addition.
  • inscription: On cradle, in black ink: 11489
Georges Lecomte, Paris. [Reid Gallery, Glasgow], sold ; to [Alex Reid and Lefèvre,Ltd., London], sold; to D. W. T. Cargill, Lanark, Scotland, (1927-1932). [Bignou Gallery, New York]. Stanley L. Barbee, Beverly Hills, CA, sold; [at his sale, Parke-Bernet, NY, April 20, 1944, no. 17]; to Maurice Wertheim, New York, 1944 - 1951), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.

Reid Gallery and Lefèvre partnered in the 1920s. Alex Reid and Lefèvre,Ltd., was also known as The Lefevre Gallery.
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

Catalogue de l'exposition de Georges Seurat (1859-1891), exh. cat., Galerie Bernheim Jeune (Paris, France, 1908), no. 45

A Century of French Painting, exh. cat., McLellan Gallery (Glasgow, Scotland, 1927), no. 39

A Century of French Painting, exh. cat., Lefevre Galleries (Glasgow, Scotland, 1927), no. 39

Christian Zervos, "Un Dimanche à la Grande Jatte et la technique de Seurat", Cahiers d'Art (1928), vol. III, no. 9, p. 366

Claire Batigne, Exhibition of French Art, 1200-1900, exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts (London, 1932), no. 556

Daniel Catton Rich, Seurat and the Evolution of "La Grande Jatte", University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL, 1935), repr. pl. xxviii

French Painting since 1870, lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), p. 24, repr. p. 25

Six Masters of Post-Impressionism, exh. cat., Wildenstein & Company (New York, NY, 1948), no. 48

La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), no. 12, pp. 33-34

A Collector's Exhibition: Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Collections of Members of the Advisory Committee of the Institute of Fine Arts., exh. cat., Knoedler & Co. Inc. (New York, NY, 1950), foreword, no. 11

Henri Dorra and John Rewald, Seurat, Les Beaux-Arts (Paris, France, 1959), repr. no. 122, p. 132

Henri Dorra and John Rewald, Seurat: L'oeuvre peint, biographie et catalogue critique (Paris, France, 1959), no. 122

The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 50, repr. p. 51

César M. de Hauke, Seurat et son Oeuvre, Grund (Paris, France, 1961), p. 305, no. 123

The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 48, pl. 19

William Innes Homer, Seurat and the Science of Painting, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA, 1964), pp. 120-122

John Russell, Seurat, Thames & Hudson (London, England, 1965), pl. 144, p. 157

Fiorella Minervino and André Chastel, L'Opera Completa di Seurat (Milan, Italy, 1972), no. 131

The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), no. 35

Paris-New York: A Continuing Romance, exh. cat., Wildenstein Galleries (New York, NY, 1977), no. 79

Vivien Raynor, "Art: Impressionist Show at the I.B.M. Gallery" [review], The New York Times (New York, NY, April 26, 1985), p. C24

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. 13, pp. 72-74, repr. p. 73

Hollis Clayson, "The Family and the Father: The Grande Jatte and its Absences", Museum Studies, The Art Institute of Chicago (1989), vol. XIV, no. 2, repr. in b/w fig. 5. p. 159; text p. 158

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. 86, color plate; pp. 129, 358, repr. b/w cat. no. 394

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. 20, p. 71

Michael F. Zimmermann, Seurat and the Art Theory of his Time, Fonds Mercator (Antwerp, 1991), repr. in color no. 333, p. 179

Robert L. Herbert, Seurat and the Making of "La Grande Jatte", exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago/University of California Press (Chicago, 2004), no. 40, p. 70, repr. in color

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

Exposition Georges Seurat, 1859-1891, Galerie Bernheim Jeune, Paris, 12/14/1908 - 01/09/1909

A Century of French Painting, McLellan Gallery, Glasgow, 01/01/1927 - 12/31/1927

Exhibition of French Art, 1200-1900, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 01/01/1932 - 03/05/1932

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

Six Masters of Post-Impressionism, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 04/08/1948 - 05/08/1948

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

A Collector's Exhibition, M. Knoedler & Co., Newport, 02/06/1950 - 02/25/1950

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: Modern French Art--Monet to Picasso, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 06/17/1960 - 09/04/1960

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

Paris-New York: A Continuing Romance, Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 11/03/1977 - 12/17/1977

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 and the Making of "La Grande Jatte", The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 06/16/2004 - 09/19/2004

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

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