Georges Seurat (1859 - 1891), Courbevoie, 1883-1884
oil on panel,
15.5 cm x 24.5 cm
Credits (obliged to state): Van Gogh Museum (purchased with support from the Vincent van Gogh Foundation and the Rembrandt Association, with the additional support from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds)
The French painter Georges Seurat was the celebrated inventor of Neo-Impressionism or Pointillism, in which complementary colours are laid down on the canvas alongside one another in tiny dots and dabs of paint. The brushstrokes in studies like this, by contrast, are less refined. Seurat produced dozens of these works on small wooden panels, which fitted exactly into the lid of his painting box, so they were easy to carry when working outdoors.
This study is a marvellous example of Seurat’s ability to capture the shimmer and intensity of light. He alternated warm colours with cold ones, and also allowed the orange-brown support to show through in places. To bring the scene to life, he placed a small figure in a boat on the sparkling water. The view is of the Seine at Courbevoie – a suburb to the northwest of Paris, where Van Gogh also painted from time to time. He was a great admirer of Seurat, whom he called ‘without any doubt ’ the leader of the young avant-garde.