Monday, June 12, 2017

Seurat's Circus Sideshow at the Met

Last Spring, John and I enjoyed the Met's presentation of a group of Georges Seurat paintings and drawings centred around his painting of a Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), 1887-88.
The paintings depict performers the French called Saltimbanques who would give a free show outside carnival tents in order to tempt customers to pay to see a full show within.
We loved Trombonist, 1887-88, Seurat's Conté crayon study for the painting. The Conté crayon drawings perfectly suggest his painting style of pointillism or developing pictures through the use of multiple dots of paint. We might add that these drawings are simply ravishing. Here are three more.
Eden Concert, ca 1886-87
At the Concert Parisian, ca 1887-88
At the Divan Japonais, ca 1887-88
The exhibition also included Seurat's preparatory drawing, Study for "Models" 1886-87
and a small version of the resultant painting, Models, 1887-88. The larger version of the painting is in the Barnes Collection.
The curators included work by other artists and social commentators like Honoré Daumier and his wonderful illustration, The Sideshow (La Parad), ca 1865-66.
The lasting achievement of Seurat's post-Impressionist technique is made clear if we compare it to the large realistic painting of a sideshow performance by Fernand Pelez -- Grimaces and Misery - The Saltimbanques, 1888 which was painted the same year as Circus Sideshow and yet lacks the timeless quality of Seurat's pointillist approach to the subject.


  1. Still, that 1888 Daumier does pack a wallop.

  2. Indeed, Potch. We love Daumier's work.

  3. Pelez painting by far better then anything Seurat ever painted.

  4. Interesting, notnek202. I disagree but am interested by your comment.