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Georges Seurat, The Channel of Gravelines, Grand Fort-Philippe

Key facts
Full title The Channel of Gravelines, Grand Fort-Philippe
Artist Georges Seurat
Artist dates 1859 - 1891
Date made 1890
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 65 × 81 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, 1995
Inventory number NG6554
Location Room 43
Collection Main Collection
The Channel of Gravelines, Grand Fort-Philippe
Georges Seurat

This is one of four paintings Seurat produced in 1890 near the town of Gravelines, a small port on the northern French coast between Calais and Dunkirk. Positioned on the sand dunes of Petit-Fort-Philippe, we see the shore in the morning light after the receding tide has left a broad expanse of open beach in the foreground.

Using the horizontal blue stripe of the channel, Seurat divides the painting into two near-equal halves of sky and sand. The vertical lines of the masts and signal tower are echoed just below by two mooring posts, subtly connecting these two halves .

Seurat covers the canvas with a shimmering mosaic of dots and strokes of unblended paint to create subtle gradations of luminous tone. He has also added a painted border of coloured dots. Each section of the border complements the adjacent area of the picture to intensify the impact of the colour.

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