Seurat’s approach to painting differed greatly from the Impressionist painters who worked outdoors in plein-air. In contrast, he worked in the studio preparing his compositions from drawings and preparatory studies.
This oil sketch is one of many preparatory studies Seurat made for his monumental painting Bathers at Asnières (1883-84), depicting men leisurely bathing in the Seine near an industrial suburb of Paris. Seurat borrowed the brilliant colors of Impressionism to suggest outdoor light, but added structure by emphasizing basic geometric shapes and firm outlines. As a leader of the movement to reform Impressionism, his style became known as Neo-Impressionism.
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