These are the 12 most famous Pointillist paintings from art history.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat (1884-1886)
This famous painting is the leading example of the pointillist technique, in which the artist uses small dots of color to format an image. In the summer of 1884, Seurat, a French post-impressionist artist, began working on this painting. It shows members of different social classes participating in various activities in the park and was since seen as a critic of society. It took him two years to complete this 3 meters (10-foot) wide painting as he spent almost all of this time sketching in the park.
L’air du soir by Henri-Edmond Cross (1893)
Cross was a French painter who is most acclaimed as a master of neo-impressionism who had a great influence on Henri Matisse, as his work was instrumental in the development of Fauvism. In this painting, Cross chose to depict a late afternoon in the South of France, when the heat and light were subsiding. This painting expresses the plenitude of this time of day as the soft colors of the setting Sun are in balance with horizontal and vertical lines, together with the figures.
Morning, Interior by Maximilien Luce (1890)
Luce was a French neo-impressionist painter, illustrator, and engraver. He was also known for his anarchist activism first started as an Impressionist, then as a Pointillist before returning to Impressionism. This painting represents a young man who has just dressed and is sitting on his flimsy bed in order to put his left boot on. Light is entering the room through two roof lights so we can assume that the room is a garret – the habitat of the penurious artist. The man depicted is artist Gustave Perrot, Luce’s friend who passed away tragically in his youth.
Parade de cirque by Georges Seurat (1889)
This painting was one of Seurat’s least admired works It represents the parade of the Circus Corvi at place de la Nation, and it represents his first painting of a nocturnal scene and first one of popular entertainment. This painting is so radically flattened that it is difficult to identify the composition’s multiple levels. The golden section appears to govern its geometric structure, though the modern consensus among art historians is that Seurat never used divine proportion in his work.
The Beach at Heist by Georges Lemmen (1891)
Lemmen was a neo-impressionist painter from Belgium. In the 1880s, several Belgian artists, together with Lemmen who was around twenty years old, were converted to pointillism and the optical mixture of colors. He eventually developed a unique technique, shown in the tight network of tiny round or even oval dots arranged horizontally on the canvas. This enabled him to create distinctly colored zones separated by a line of complementary colors. The depiction of humans in this landscape is the abandoned boat, which was painted in purple strokes against a yellow-dominated background.
Self Portrait by Vincent van Gogh (1887)
Van Gogh, one of the most recognizable painters, painted around 35 portraits of himself in total, as for him, this was the way of practicing portrait painting. As he used a neo-impressionist style to complete this painting, his goal was not to portray himself as realistically as possible. He used short brushstrokes, with alternating longer strokes, such as the orange ones in his beard. Even though the background seems transparent, it was originally purple, but the pigment has discolored.
Young Woman Powdering Herself by Georges Seurat (1889-1890)
Seurat was a post-impressionist painter of French descent who devised the painting techniques chromoluminarism and pointillism. He was extremely delicate and sensible but had a great passion for logical abstraction and mathematical precision. This painting is one of the leading examples of pointillism. The lady depicted is the artist’s mistress Madeleine Knoloch, with whom he kept his relationship secret. What is most interesting about this painting is that it has a hidden portrait of Seurat. When it was first publicly shown the wall behind his mistress had displayed a bamboo picture frame showing a vase of flowers. But, in 2014 using image technology, it was revealed that the artist had painted himself on his easel, the object on the wall is now believed to be a mirror.
Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon by Paul Signac (1890)
Félix Fénéon was a French art critic and a gallery director. He was also a writer and anarchist in the late 19th and early 20th century, who was here depicted by Paul Signac, a French neo-impressionist painter. His profile is depicted from the left, with a characteristic goatee beard, wearing a brown coat and black suit, holding a black top hat and walking cane in his left hand. In his right hand, he is delicately holding a cyclamen flower. The swirling patterns in the background create almost a kaleidoscopic color wheel with abstract designs in eight sections, meeting at a central point.
Femmes au bain by Hippolyte Petitjean (1919)
Petitjean was a French painter who was encouraged by Seurat to join the neo-impressionists. In 1894 he adopted the pointillist technique but later began combining it with more feathery strokes. In his later life, he returned to neo-impressionism with a series of decorative watercolors of landscapes and people. This painting is signed hipp. and dated in the lower right corner to 1919, depicts two women, a blonde and a brunette, bathing on a riverside.
Bathers at Asnières by Georges Seurat (1884)
This painting is one of Seurat’s masterpieces on a monumental scale. The canvas depicts a suburban, Parisian riverside scene with isolated figures, and their clothes piled sculpturally on the riverbank, together with the trees and buildings. A combination of complex brushstrokes and a meticulous application of contemporary color theory gives the composition a sense of gentle vibrancy. The isolated figures are given even a statuesque but largely unmodeled treatment, while their skin is with a waxy finish. Seurat described one of the brushstroke techniques he developed on this canvas as the balayé technique in which a flat brush is used to apply matte colors using strokes in a crisscross formation.
Femmes au Puits by Paul Signac (1892)
Signac was a French Neo-Impressionist painter and writer who helped developed the pointillist style, a technique of painting in small distinct dots of color. Signac seeks to give, through the use of strident, acid tones, the impression that it is the paint itself that is generating the light. The subtitle chosen by Signac Decoration for a panel in the dark confirms the point of view of a critic who saw the work as “an art with great decorative development, which sacrifices the anecdote to the arabesque, the nomenclature to the synthesis”.
Bridge in London by Jan Toorop (1889)
Johannes Theodorus ‘Jan’ Toorp was a painter of Dutch and Indonesian descent, who worked in several styles such as symbolism, art nouveau, and pointillism. He spent his life between The Hague, England, and Brussels, where he mixed all styles mentioned, just after his marriage to Annie Hall a British woman. Therefore, this painting was completed during one of his stays in London. To depict a London bridge, he used pastel colors and quick brushstrokes.
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