UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Georges Seurat, "Une baignade à Asnières" Thom, Ian MacEwan


Since its completion in 1884, Georges-Pierre Seurat's "Une Baignade à Asnières" has been regarded in formal terms. The work has been seen as an important formal study, which is an only partially successful synthesis of his artistic antecedents: the subject matter, and to a considerable extent the style of the impressionists, modified by the artist's study of Delacroix's use of colour, the theory of Ogden Rood, and Ingrist and Puvean classicism. It is the contention of this writer that this approach, which ignores such factors as the class of the figures and the location of the scene - or in short, the subject matter - in fact misses the main thesis of the work. By examining Seurat's career before the "Baignade", and the circumstances of its creation, we hope to suggest that far from being devoid of meaningful content, the work is to be seen as an ironic and critical social comment. The workingmen are here at leisure, and yet far from being free and happy; they are condemned to conditions which make their leisure worse than none at all. This idea is what Seurat intended to convey to the art-viewing boureoisie. Although the means are subtle, a careful examination of the pictorial evidence makes the conclusion inevitable.

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