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Georges Seurat, The Rainbow: Study for 'Bathers at Asnières'

Key facts
Full title The Rainbow: Study for 'Bathers at Asnières'
Artist Georges Seurat
Artist dates 1859 - 1891
Date made 1883
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 15.5 × 24.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Presented by Heinz Berggruen, 1995
Inventory number NG6555
Location Room 43
Collection Main Collection
The Rainbow: Study for 'Bathers at Asnières'
Georges Seurat

This is the only sketch for Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières that includes a rainbow, which was painted over the sky once the paint had dried. Although perhaps a rather contrived image, the mottled sky suggests Seurat may have seen a rainbow. It is evidence of his attention to particular effects of light and atmosphere throughout the sketches – and in the final painting, with its effect of hazy morning sunshine.

The picture looks as though it was at least partly painted on site, rather than in the studio. For example, the black barges on the right and building in the background, depicted with just a few swift strokes, may have been painted directly on location. However, this is more developed than a quick sketch as it shows signs of having been composed rather than simply observed. The three figures have been deliberately placed with equal space between them.

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