Room 44

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Beyond Impressionism: Pissarro and Seurat

In the 1880s Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro, both founder members of the Impressionist group, began to explore new ways of painting. Renoir adopted a more linear manner while Pissarro began to work in the new style invented by Georges Seurat, whom he met in 1885.

Seurat’s large painting of 1884, Bathers at Asnières, dominates this room. Depicting young workers relaxing on the river bank in an industrial suburb of Paris, the artist invested this everyday subject with unexpected grandeur and solemnity.

Seurat’s innovative approach, based on colour theory and termed divisionism or pointillism, involved leaving touches of pure pigment for the eye, rather than the brush, to blend. The method inspired other artists; one contemporary, Paul Signac, became a prominent devotee.

Paul Gauguin worked in Brittany and the South Seas from 1883 until 1903, creating pictures with unusual, primitive subject matter and bold coloration. These images encouraged a new generation of artists to believe that the expression of emotions, rather than appearances, should be their goal.