Seurat (1859-1891): Circus Sideshow; La Parade du Cirque

Seurat (1859-1891): Circus Sideshow; La Parade du Cirque

4/8/2021, 9:26:12 AM
Seurat (1859-1891): Circus Sideshow; La Parade du Cirque, 1888, oil on canvas, 99.7 x 149.9 cm. (39 1/4 x 59 in.), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York #Seurat #LaParadeduCirque #Art #Artists #Painters #Paintings #Arthistory #Impressionism #Impressionists #pittore #pittura #pintor #pintura #peintre #peinture #Arte #artista #Maler #Malerei #impressionnisme #pointillism #circus #GeorgesSeurat Circus Sideshow (or Parade de Cirque) is one of six major figure paintings that Seurat produced during his short career. More compact than his other mural-size compositions, and more mysterious in its allure, Seurat's first nocturnal painting debuted at the 1888 Salon des Indépendants in Paris. On a balustraded stage, under the misty glow of nine twinkling gaslights, a ringmaster (at right) and musicians (at left) play to a crowd of potential ticket buyers, whose assorted hats add a wry and rhythmic note to the foreground. This picture is very different from Seurat’s earlier sun-drenched compositions such as Bathers at Asnières and Sunday on la Grande Jatte. Whereas these two masterpieces depict the escape of city dwellers to the cooling airs of the river Seine’s suburban reaches during a summer weekend, Circus Sideshow is unremittingly urban and wintry, the scene lit by the glow of gas lighting. Although a link remains with these earlier pictures in that Seurat is illustrating the pastimes of ordinary people, this piece also represents a further development in his researches into optics and it is the first time he had used the technique which later came to be called ‘pointillist’ to represent the effects of artificial light. Seurat’s working method, which he rather clumsily called chromo-luminarism, resulted from his interest in colour theory and led him into the study of a number of scientific disciplines. Essentially this involved the application of small juxtaposed dabs (or points) of pure but complementary colour which, when viewed from a distance mix within the viewer’s eye to give the impression of another colour. Here the dominant blue–orange–yellow spectrum of dots fuse to give a range of greens, purples and darker colours.

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