Gray Weather, Grande Jatte by Seurat, Georges

Gray Weather, Grande Jatte
Seurat, Georges
Painted 1888 (160 Kb);
Oil on canvas, 27 3/4 x 34 in; Signed, bottom left;
Philadelphia Museum of Art. Walter H. Annenberg CollectionBy his own description, Seurat set out to discipline the creation of
paintings through the systematic application of carefully calculated
formulas concerning color, composition, and line, which superseded those
works of the older generation of
Impressionists.
During the second half of
the 1880s he laid a foundation for a new, objective mission for the many
artists of his own generation who were drawn to his methods. Yet, for all
the rigor of intention and application of his theories, the outcome always
seemed to comprise a balance of systematic application and poetic
expression. This duality is no more apparent than in the vigorously
analytical yet subtly evocative painting
Gray Weather, Grande Jatte.This picture shows a dull, overcast summer's day on the Grande Jatte,
devoid of the rowers, boaters, and fun seekers who populate the 1886
painting, which contains some forty figures. The idle boats are tied up to
the mooring posts driven into the shallows along the bank: a little sailboat
on the far left; two punts with pennants (perhaps from their rowing clubs)
fluttering from the mooring poles; and a steam-powered craft firmly
secured between two other poles, its dinghy tied up separately. As large as
the latter boat seems in this context, it is probably just a small pleasure
craft of the kind that moves gaily downriver in the 1886 painting, its guide
sail, which goes up over the metal arch on the stern, furled away.The view across the gently flowing river to the suburb of Courbevoie
behind a concrete embankment is framed by the trees of the island. A path
worn on the grass moves strongly across the foreground, the boldness of
its diagonal somewhat dissipated as it weaves in and through the little
grove of trees on the left. The surface of the painting is densely, but not
evenly covered by a series of small brush strokes applied with great
deliberation. Directly placed pure colors alternate within each area of
definition: orange/green, blue/yelloy, and white/gray. A border of alternating
strokes of red and blue surrounds the entire canvas. The effect is at once
freshly panoramic and spatially flattened. As Robert Goldwater noted, the
diagonal placement of the tree trunks is balanced by the visual union of the
foliage to the surface of the picture plane, just as the strong angle of the
path is spatially thwarted by the even horizon of the bank beyond.It is unusual for Seurat, who was very prudent about his titles, to have
given a descriptive title to this painting: "Gray Weather." At least three of
his harbor pictures bear the notation `Evening' along with the name of the
town in which they were painted, but never was he as specific in noting the
climatic nature of the moment as he was here. In this he was drawing close
to the intention --at least in title--of the Impressionists, particularly
Monet,
whose declared purpose was to capture specific climatic effects.
Given Seurat's relationship to the older generation of Impressionists and
his supposed dependency on their attitudes and style--a link that has been
seriously questioned in recent criticism--this is an idea worth testing. Is
this, indeed, a closely witnessed record of a temporal and climatic
condition in nature?Felix Feneon, the critic and friend of Seurat, was among the first to note
that one of the grave dangers of Divisionist painting was that through its
increasing refinement of the applied, separate stroke that characterize its
practice, the interaction of colors tended to cancel one another out,
creating a somewhat dulled coloristic effect that may have been just the
opposite from the vibrancy intended. That is certainly not the case here,
where despite the intensity and degree of density of color strokes, the
relationship is so refined and delicately balanced that the overall muted
effect is as intended. This phenomenon proved a danger only for those
followers of S

Gray Weather, Grande Jatte Seurat, Georges Painted 1888 (160 Kb); Oil on canvas, 27 3/4 x 34 in; Signed, bottom left; Philadelphia Museum of Art. Walter H. Annenberg CollectionBy his own description, Seurat set out to discipline the creation of paintings through the systematic application of carefully calculated formulas concerning color, composition, and line, which superseded those works of the older generation of Impressionists. During the second half of the 1880s he laid a foundation for a new, objective mission for the many artists of his own generation who were drawn to his methods. Yet, for all the rigor of intention and application of his theories, the outcome always seemed to comprise a balance of systematic application and poetic expression. This duality is no more apparent than in the vigorously analytical yet subtly evocative painting Gray Weather, Grande Jatte.This picture shows a dull, overcast summer's day on the Grande Jatte, devoid of the rowers, boaters, and fun seekers who populate the 1886 painting, which contains some forty figures. The idle boats are tied up to the mooring posts driven into the shallows along the bank: a little sailboat on the far left; two punts with pennants (perhaps from their rowing clubs) fluttering from the mooring poles; and a steam-powered craft firmly secured between two other poles, its dinghy tied up separately. As large as the latter boat seems in this context, it is probably just a small pleasure craft of the kind that moves gaily downriver in the 1886 painting, its guide sail, which goes up over the metal arch on the stern, furled away.The view across the gently flowing river to the suburb of Courbevoie behind a concrete embankment is framed by the trees of the island. A path worn on the grass moves strongly across the foreground, the boldness of its diagonal somewhat dissipated as it weaves in and through the little grove of trees on the left. The surface of the painting is densely, but not evenly covered by a series of small brush strokes applied with great deliberation. Directly placed pure colors alternate within each area of definition: orange/green, blue/yelloy, and white/gray. A border of alternating strokes of red and blue surrounds the entire canvas. The effect is at once freshly panoramic and spatially flattened. As Robert Goldwater noted, the diagonal placement of the tree trunks is balanced by the visual union of the foliage to the surface of the picture plane, just as the strong angle of the path is spatially thwarted by the even horizon of the bank beyond.It is unusual for Seurat, who was very prudent about his titles, to have given a descriptive title to this painting: "Gray Weather." At least three of his harbor pictures bear the notation `Evening' along with the name of the town in which they were painted, but never was he as specific in noting the climatic nature of the moment as he was here. In this he was drawing close to the intention --at least in title--of the Impressionists, particularly Monet, whose declared purpose was to capture specific climatic effects. Given Seurat's relationship to the older generation of Impressionists and his supposed dependency on their attitudes and style--a link that has been seriously questioned in recent criticism--this is an idea worth testing. Is this, indeed, a closely witnessed record of a temporal and climatic condition in nature?Felix Feneon, the critic and friend of Seurat, was among the first to note that one of the grave dangers of Divisionist painting was that through its increasing refinement of the applied, separate stroke that characterize its practice, the interaction of colors tended to cancel one another out, creating a somewhat dulled coloristic effect that may have been just the opposite from the vibrancy intended. That is certainly not the case here, where despite the intensity and degree of density of color strokes, the relationship is so refined and delicately balanced that the overall muted effect is as intended. This phenomenon proved a danger only for those followers of S