Room 43

Beyond Impressionism: Seurat, Gauguin, and Van Gogh

In the 1880s some of the Impressionist artists were beginning to enjoy success. The cohesiveness of the initial group had waned, and they were exploring new ways of painting. Camille Pissarro began to work in the new style invented by Georges Seurat, whom he met in 1885. Seurat’s approach, based on scientific colour theory, involved using countless tiny dots of pure colour, placed in close proximity to each other. When viewed at a distance, the eye blends these individual marks into areas of solid colour: a technique called divisionism or pointillism.

Pissarro’s open-minded attitude towards new art won the admiration of younger artists, including Paul Gauguin. Gauguin’s boldly coloured paintings of Brittany and the South Seas encouraged a new generation of painters to believe that the expression of emotion should be their goal. In autumn 1888 Gauguin lived and worked with Vincent van Gogh at Arles in Provence. Van Gogh, born in Holland, had been an art dealer and preacher before becoming an artist. His paintings, with their textured surfaces and strong colours, are charged with intense feelings.