Georges Seurat. Preparatory Sketch for the Painting “La Grève du Bas Butin, Honfleur”. 1886. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Saidie A. May, BMA 1951.357
Georges Seurat’s monumental A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grande-Jatte (illustrated below) made a compelling case for the artist’s Pointillist approach to painting, when it was shown at the Eighth Impressionist Exhibition in 1886. That same year, Seurat spent the summer at Honfleur on the Normandy coast using his revolutionary technique to paint views of the beach and explore the varied color and optical effects produced by the sun on the water and sand. Shimmering little studies, such as this one, served as the basis for the large-scale compositions he created in his Paris studio.
This small oil sketch was purchased by Saidie and Herbert May from the galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris on the same day they acquired Renoir’s On the Shore of the Seine in November 1925.
By Jan Ryan
He stares down at the shore. He saved her, hoisted the carcass from the depths. The fabulous creature laughed at him, at all of them. The rest laughed too as if they understood erasure by water, mockingly floating a bubble up to the distant vague ship. How could she prefer to be hidden/lost/gone from them? Were we imbued to crave beauty only to deprive us… was creation not our assigned mission? Could one greedy, selfish lover, an ocean, incinerator, fireplace or thief be allowed to kidnap her?
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