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Georges Seurat, Study for 'Bathers at Asnières'

Key facts
Full title Study for 'Bathers at Asnières'
Artist Georges Seurat
Artist dates 1859 - 1891
Date made 1883-4
Medium and support Oil on walnut mounted on mahogany
Dimensions 15.2 × 25 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Heinz Berggruen, 1995
Inventory number NG6561
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Study for 'Bathers at Asnières'
Georges Seurat

Of the small panels in the National Gallery’s collection related to Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, this oil sketch on wood is perhaps the one most closely connected with the final painting. Unlike other sketches, which concentrate on atmospheric effects or the landscape, Seurat’s focus here is almost exclusively on the men and boys themselves. Only two – the clothed man lying down in the lower left corner and the young man with the bare torso at the river’s edge on the right of the picture – are retained in the final painting. The nude standing boy eventually became the boy standing waist-high in the river.

As the two larger figures on the right are drawn to a different scale to those on the left, this panel is like a page from a sketchbook in which Seurat is trying out ideas for the poses and positions of the figures rather than working out the overall composition.

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