We’re celebrating a big anniversary this week. Georges Seurat, who created one of the jewels in our crown, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, would have been 150 years old today. This year is also the 125th anniversary of the painting’s inception. Dated 1884 to 1886, the painting is considered the pinnacle of his brief but revolutionary career. Phyllis Tuchman writes about A Sunday on La Grande Jattehere, but I just wanted to add my two cents. As an art history student in Chicago many moon ago, this painting was an object of study in many of my courses. I studied class relations in the nineteenth century in France via the two seated men and the two dogs—one working dog, one with a pink bow around its neck—in the foreground of the painting. I studied the representation of women in modern painting via the alleged courtesan with her exotic pet monkey. I studied color theory by scrutinizing Seurat’s painted border—an overlooked feature of the painting that doesn’t often show up when it is reproduced. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte encapsulated formal and historical issues that remain the subject of lively art historical debate today. It remains a real pleasure to see people clustered at the painting every hour of every day in our galleries. Happy birthday, Georges!
In honor of these illustrious anniversaries, we're offering fans of Seurat a chance to adopt one of his dots. Ask about it the next time you're at the museum.
Georges Seurat. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, 1884-1886. Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.