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Georges Seurat, 'Bathers at Asnières', 1884

Key facts
Full title Bathers at Asnières
Artist Georges Seurat
Artist dates 1859 - 1891
Date made 1884
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 201 × 300 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, Courtauld Fund, 1924
Inventory number NG3908
Location Room 43
Collection Main Collection
Bathers at Asnières
Georges Seurat

This large picture was Seurat’s first major composition, painted when he had not yet turned 25. He intended it to be a grand statement with which he would make his mark at the official Salon in the spring of 1884, but it was rejected.

Several men and boys relax on the banks of the Seine at Asnières and Courbevoie, an industrial suburb north-west of central Paris. Shown in profile, they are as immobile as sculptures and each seems absorbed in his own thoughts, neither engaging with each other nor with us. Suffused with bright but hazy sunlight, the entire scene has an almost eerie stillness to it, as if time has been suspended and all movement temporarily frozen. In the background there is a railway bridge that partly hides a parallel road bridge, as well as the chimneys of the gas plant and factories at Clichy, where some of the men may work.

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