By 1877 art student Seurat had advanced from copying ancient sculptures and casts to drawing from live models at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. An Indian Man was probably drawn from life, but the sitter is very different from the standard, muscular male nudes who appear in sketches by Seurat and other academic pupils from this period. The sagging, aged body, long beard, and topknot identify him as an elderly Indian man. The topknot and beard are sometimes worn by Hindu ascetics called sadhus, who live an austere, monkish existence. But the hairstyle is also characteristic of Sikhs, who, according to a religious tenet known as kes, never cut their hair and are required to comb it with a kangha, tie it in a topknot, and cover it in a turban.
Art + Ideas Podcast: Lee Hendrix on Noir