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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte - 1884 ( ) is one of Georges Seurat's most famous works, and is an example of pointillism.


Seurat spent two years painting A Sunday Afternoon, focusing scrupulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original as well as completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He would go and sit in the park and make numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on the issues of color, light, and form. The painting is approximately 2 by 3 meters (6 ft 10 in x 10 ft 1 in) in size.

Motivated by study in optical and color theory, he contrasted miniature dots of colors that, through optical unification, form a single hue in the viewer's eye. He believed that this form of painting, now known as pointillism, would make the colors more brilliant and powerful than standard brush strokes. To make the experience of the painting even more vivid, he surrounded it with a frame of painted dots, which in turn he enclosed with a pure white, wooden frame, which is how the painting is exhibited today at the Art Institute of Chicagomarker.

In creating the picture, Seurat employed the then-new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), most visibly for yellow highlights on the lawn in the painting, but also in mixtures with orange and blue pigments. In the century and more since the painting's completion, the zinc yellow has darkened to brown—a color degeneration that was already showing in the painting in Seurat's lifetime.

The island of la Grande Jattemarker (pronounced grhand zhot) is in the Seinemarker in Parismarker between La Defensemarker and the suburb of Neuilly, bisected by the Pont-de-Levallois. Although for many years it was an industrial site, it is today the site of a public garden and a housing development. In 1884, the island was a bucolic retreat far from the urban center.

Acquisition and display at the Art Institute of Chicago

Painter Frederic Clay Bartlett and his second, Helen Birch Bartlett, amassed a collection of modern art which included A Sunday Afternoon. They purchased the painting for $22,000 from one of Seurat’s students. It is now displayed at the Art Institute of Chicagomarker in the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Gallery.

In popular culture

  • The iPod touch and iPhone, as well as Mac OSX Snow Leopard come with this in the included wallpapers.
  • The Stephen Sondheim musical Sunday in the Park with George is based on the painting.
  • The painting is featured in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Ferris' friend Cameron is shown locking eyes on the little girl in the center of the painting and being transfixed. The scene portrays Cameron observing a little girl up close whereupon he realizes that, though from a distance all seems in order, there is no shape or form to her face.
  • Parodied in the Family Guy episode, "The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (on the part where Stewie goes to the museum to see this painting as one of his last wishes before he dies - however the museum is incorrectly referred to as The Chicago Museum of Art). It is a parody of the Ferris Bueller scene mentioned above.
  • In the famous zero-gravity opening scene of the 1968 film Barbarella, a section of the painting is visible.
  • In 2004, 20th Century Fox's The Simpsons were featured in a poster titled "A Day at the River" which imitates Seurat's famous painting. A mid-1990s Looney Tunes calendar also includes a parody.
  • Also in The Simpsons, the episode entitled "Mom and Pop Art" features Barney re-creating an exact replica of this painting.
  • In an episode of The Critic, Alice shows Jay that she painted her own precise replica of the painting on her apartment wall.
  • In PC and Commodore 64 versions of the video game Maniac Mansion, a shredded print of the painting hangs over the decaying dining room table.
  • Old Deaf School Park, a park in Columbus, Ohiomarker attempts to replicate the piece in three-dimensional topiary.[58565]
  • Nancy Cameron was posed in front of a copy of the painting, dressed in a similar way, for the May, 1976, edition of Playboy.
  • A 1989 Sesame Street book featured a spoof called "Sunday in the Park with Big Bird".
  • The Nintendo game Animal Crossing: Wild World has this painting for sale under the name "Calm Painting"
  • A scene in Looney Tunes: Back in Action has Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck into this painting. When Elmer comes out, he is still in pointilism form, so Bugs takes advantage of this, and blows Elmer away with a small fan.
  • A former restaurant at the Mall of Americamarker called "Minnesota Picnic" featured a mural rather close in style and size to the Seurat original.
A mural in the Mall of America
  • The Bruce Willis movie Die Hard With a Vengeance used a seven story tall mural of this painting as a background
  • The song "Camouflage" from Third Eye Blind's 1999 album Blue references the painting in the line "Be a dream in color even on a winter's night/Thinking George Seurat afternoon bathed in light"
  • In 2006, a group of volunteers staged the scene with modern clothing.[58566]
  • Joshua Ferris' 2007 novel Then We Came to the End, a book about the workplace, life and labor, places two workaholic lovers in front of the painting, on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • The official poster for the 1993 Detroit Grand Prix held on Detroit's Belle Isle June 11-13 is based on this painting. The poster uses all of the original images of the park goers on the right side but adds images of the racetrack and 3 Indy cars between the park and river, the boats can still be seen, the background across the river has been altered to show the Detroit skyline. The poster is titled 'Sunday Afternoon at Belle Isle Park, 1993-1893'
  • The Pixar movie Wall-E released in 2008 features the painting, together with other famous paintings, in the final credits.
  • In 1989 Columbus, Ohiomarker, artist James T. Mason created a topiary version of this painting on the grounds of a former school for the deaf. The reproduction includes 54 human figures, eight boats, three dogs, a monkey and a cat sculpted in yew shrubbery grown over metal frameworks.

Related works by Seurat

Image:Seurat bathers.png|Bathers at Asnières, 1883-1884Image:Georges Seurat 036.jpg|Figures assises, 1884Image:Georges Seurat 023.jpg|Die Insel La Grande Jatte mit Ausflüglern, 1884Image:Georges Seurat 051.jpg|Paysage et personnages, 1884-1885Image:Georges Seurat 038.jpg|Groupe de personnages, 1884-1885Image:Georges Seurat 034.jpg|Esquisse d'ensemble, 1884-1885Image:Georges Seurat 035.jpg|Femmes au bord de l'eau, 1885-1886Image:Georges Seurat 031.jpg|Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, 1884-1886


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