Georges Seurat

Clothes on the Grass

1883

Artist
Georges Seurat 1859–1891
Original title
Vêtements sur l'herbe
Medium
Oil paint on wood
Dimensions
Support: 162 x 248 mm
frame: 288 x 370 x 41 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Alex Reid and Lefevre 1926
Reference
N04203

Not on display

Display caption

This is one of a series of small studies in oil on panel for Seurat's first large painting 'Bathing at Asnières', now in the National Gallery. The final composition shows people sunning themselves or bathing by the bank of the Seine at Asnières, a suburb of Paris, with the Courbevoie bridge in the background and the Ile de la Grande Jatte on the right. Seurat is known to have completed fourteen preliminary oil sketches for the painting, as well as ten drawings. Most of the oil sketches appear to have been made on the spot and show that Seurat shifted his position on the bank several times before deciding on his viewpoint. The figures included in some of the sketches were depicted by chance and Seurat dropped some in the final painting.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

Georges Seurat 1859-1891

N04203 Vêtements sur l'Herbe (Clothes on the Grass) c.1883

Not inscribed
Oil on panel, 6 3/8 x 9 3/4 (16 x 25)
Presented by Alex. Reid and Lefevre 1926
Prov: With Ambroise Vollard, Paris; with Eugène Druet, Paris; Maurice Fabre, Aude; with Jos. Hessel, Paris; with Alex. Reid and Lefevre, London
Exh: Georges Seurat (1859-1891), Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, December 1908-January 1909 (23) as 'Vêtements sur l'Herbe'
Lit: Benedict Nicolson, 'Seurat's La Baignade' in Burlington Magazine, LXXIX, 1941, p.140; Henri Dorra and John Rewald, Seurat (Paris 1959), No.89, p.88 repr. as 'Vêtements, Etude pour "Une Baignade",' 1883-4; C.M. de Hauke, Seurat et son Oeuvre (Paris 1961), No.81, Vol.1, p.46, repr. p.47; André Chastel and Fiorella Minervino, L'Opera Completa di Seurat (Milan 1972), No.92, p.96, repr. p.97 Repr: Douglas Cooper, Georges Seurat: Une Baignade, Asnières (London 1945), p.9, fig.9

One of the last of a series of small studies in oil on panel (known as 'croquetons') for Seurat's first large painting 'Une Baignade, Asnières' (Bathing at Asnières), 1883-4, which was formerly at the Tate but has now been transferred to the National Gallery. The final composition depicts people sunning themselves or bathing by the bank of the Seine at Asnières, a suburb of Paris, with the Courbevoie bridge in the background and the Ile de la Grande Jatte on the right. No less than fourteen preliminary oil sketches are known, as well as ten drawings in conté crayon.

The great majority of the croquetons appear to have been painted on the spot and show that Seurat shifted his position on the bank several times before deciding on his viewpoint; also that he depicted figures which chance offered, some of which were later abandoned and some retained in the final picture. Benedict Nicolson has suggested however that the Tate Gallery's croqueton was completed in the studio from information supplied by the croqueton now in the Nelson Gallery, Kansas City. Its composition corresponds exactly to the Kansas croqueton (whereas the final picture includes more of the trees on the opposite bank), but omits the two seated figures which appear in the other sketch.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.681-2, reproduced p.681