Georges SEURAT
French 1859–91
Port-en-Bessin, the outer harbour, high tide 1888
(Port-en-Bessin, avant-port, marée haute)
oil on canvas
67.0 x 82.0 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Purchased with funds from an anonymous Canadian donor, 1952 (RF 1952-1)
© RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

In 1888 Seurat summered at Port-en-Bessin, in Normandy. From a distance, this bird's-eye view of the town's quay and covered fish market appears bleached by hot limpid light. Viewed closely, however, it is a riot of colour. Seurat experimented here with placing small dots of colour in the middle of larger ones. In addition to a painted border, Seurat also gave this composition a painted frame, the Divisionist hues of which he applied to complement the canvas's colour construction. Not a success with either critics or collectors, many of Seurat's painted frames were soon removed from their paintings.