About This Artwork

Georges Seurat
French, 1859-1891

Oil Sketch for "La Grande Jatte", 1884

Oil on panel
6 1/8 x 9 9/16 in. (15.5 x 24.3 cm)

Gift of Mary and Leigh Block, 1981.15

This small oil on a thin wood panel is one of 24 painted studies Georges Seurat made while conceiving the large, celebrated painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Although at first glance, the panel seems close to the larger canvas, its 20 or more figures have little to do with the final composition. The trio at right, for example, with the elderly seated figure, was completely rethought in the final composition, in which a man in a top hat and a woman walking a monkey convey a sense of grand solemnity and wry humor—a sophisticated irony that is completely absent in the clumsily positioned figures of the oil panel.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Munich, Kunstverein, Französische Künstler, September, 1906, cat. 100, traveled to Frankfurt Kunstverein, October, Dresden Kunstverein, November, Galerie E. Arnold, Kalsruhe Kunstverein, December, Stuttgart Kunstverein, January 1907.

Paris, Galerie Jacques Rodrigues-Henriqués, Quelques oeuvres échangées jadis entre eux, May 17-June 3, 1938.

Chicago, The Art Institute and New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Seurat: Paintings and Drawings, January 16-March 7 and March 24 – May 11, 1958, cat. 94, pp. 31, 58 (ill.) as Sketch for ‘La Grande Jatte.’

Washington, National Gallery of Art, 100 European Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block, May 4-June 11, 1967, cat. 21; traveled to Los Angeles County Museum of Art, September 21-November 2, 1967.

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, One Hundred European Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block, February 2-April 14, 1968, cat. 22 (ill.).

Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais and New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seurat, 1859-1891, April 9-August 12, 1991 and September 24-January 12, 1992, cat. 127 (color ill.), as Petite esquisse (Sketch with Many Figures).

Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Pointillismus, September 6-November 1997, cat. 132 (color ill.), traveled to Lausanne, Fondaton de l’Hermitage, January 23-May 1998.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Seurat and the Making of ‘La Grande Jatte,’ June 16-September 19, 2004, cat. 48, pp. 74 (color ill.), 75, 267 (color ill.), 274, as Sketch with Many Figures (study for La Grande Jatte), 1884.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Museum of Art, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–November 2, 2008, cat. 51 (ill.).

Publication History

John Rewald, Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1956), p. 85 (ill.), as Study for La Grande Jatte, c. 1884.

Robert Herbert, “Seurat in Chicago and New York,” The Burlington Magazine, May 1958, pp. 151, 153 (pl. 11).

Henri Dorra and John Rewald, Seurat: l’oeuvre peint biographie et catalogue critique (Paris: Les Beaux –Arts, 1959), cat. 119 (ill.), as Vue générale avec groupement de personnages, étude pour ‘La Grande Jatte,’ 1884-85.

C. M. de Hauke, Seurat et son oeuvre (Paris: Gründ, 1961), cat. 128 (ill.), as Petite esquisse.

André Chastel and Fiorella Minervino, L’opera completa di Seurat (Milano: Rizzoli, 1972), ill. 128, pl. 19A, as Gruppi di figure alla ‘Grande Jatte.’

The Burlington Magazine 976, v. 76 (July 1984), p. 464 (ill. 88).

Richard Brettell, French Impressionists (Chicago, 1987), pp. 89, 91 (ill.), 119.

James Wood, ed., Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago 2000), p. 78 (ill.), as Oil Sketch for La Grande Jatte, 1884.

The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (New Haven and London, 2008), cat. 51, pp. 112-13 (ill.).

Ownership History

Georges Pierre Seurat (died 1891), Paris [panneau no. 87, posthumous inventory, dated 3 May 1891, see de Hauke 1961]; possibly given by the artist’s mother, Ernestine Faivre Seurat, to Maximilien Luce [according to Herbert, 1992]; Maximilien Luce (died 1941), Paris; by descent to his son, Frédéric Luce, in 1941; sold to Wildenstein and Co., Paris and New York, May 1955 (arrived in New York, October 1955); sold to Mr. and Mrs. Leigh B. Block, Chicago, November 1955 [according to Wildenstein’s letter to Susan Stein, 12 February 1991]; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1981.

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