The J. Paul Getty Museum


Object Details




Georges Seurat (French, 1859 - 1891)




France (Place Created)


about 1883–1884


Conte crayon, fixed on laid paper

Object Number:



24.3 × 31 cm (9 9/16 × 12 3/16 in.)

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Object Description

"[E]ven [Georges Seurat's] simple sketches are so studied in contrast and gradation that one could paint from them without seeing the model again," said Seurat's contemporary, painter Paul Signac.

Seurat's large, velvety forms show dark poplar trees barely emerging from an even darker sky, their bases rooted in the meadow. Several more poplars stand at the right, more shadowy still. Clearly visible through the Conté crayon rubbing, the watermark MICHALLET emphasizes the paper's surface. This nearly abstract drawing, with its complete lack of edges among the forms, is a study in the pure interaction of light and shadow.

When Seurat returned to Paris in 1880, he spent two years drawing in only black and white. This choice allowed him to explore the phenomenon of light's interpenetration and reflection. While absorbed in his preoccupation with gradation and contrast rather than line, he soon mastered the balance of massing light and dark. He developed a unique method of rubbing Conté crayon across highly textured paper, which gave him a variety of tones according to the degree of pressure he applied.

1891 -

probably Madeleine Knobloch, 1868 - 1903


Léonce Moline, French, (Lugt Suppl. 2282a)

until no later than 1926

Gustave Geffroy, French, 1855 - 1926

until no later than 1970

André Barbier, French, 1883 - 1970

- 1988

by descent to Charlotte Morat (sold, Christie's, London, 6/28/88, no. 308)

Georges Seurat: Zeichnungen (October 30, 1983 to March 11, 1984) (catalogue by E. Franz and B. Growe)
  • Kunsthalle Bielefeld, October 30 to December 25, 1983
  • Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, January 15 to March 11, 1984
Seurat: 1859 - 1891 (September 9, 1991 to January 12, 1992) (catalogue by R. L. Herbert et. al.)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), September 9, 1991 to January 12, 1992
European Landscape Drawings of the 15th through 19th Century (October 6 to December 13, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 6 to December 13, 1992
18th and 19th Century Drawings (March 15 to May 29, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), March 15 to May 29, 1994
The Compositional Drawing from the 16th to the 19th Century (April 16 to June 30, 1996)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1996
Landscape Drawings 1500-1900 (June 9 to August 23, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 9 to August 23, 1998
To Create a Living Art: 19th Century Drawings (May 1 to July 15, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 15, 2001
Defining Modernity: European Drawings, 1800-1900 (June 5 to September 9, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 5 to September 9, 2007
Capturing Nature's Beauty: Three Centuries of French Landscapes (July 28 to November 1, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 28 to November 1, 2009
Paths to Abstraction (June 26 to September 19, 2010)
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), June 26 to September 19, 2010
Georges Seurat in the Kröller-Müller Museum (May 24 to September 7, 2014)
  • Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo), May 24 to September 7, 2014
Noir: The Romance of Black in 19th Century French Drawings and Prints (February 9 to May 15, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 9 to May 15, 2016