Georges Seurat 1859-1891
N04203 Vêtements sur l'Herbe (Clothes on the Grass) c.1883
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.
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