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Gallery Text

Seurat’s brief career as a painter and draftsman coincided with what could be described as the climax of symbolism. While he was not self-consciously a symbolist, Seurat had contacts with several writers associated with the movement. He shared a certain intellectual affinity with French poet and thinker Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–1898) in “his passion for logic, in his concern to push the work of art to the depths of the mind in its essential form and at the same time to confront it with visible and tangible reality,” as one contemporary critic noted. This drawing is a study for a detail of Seurat’s first major painting, Bathers at Asnières (1883–84), now in the National Gallery, London. It exemplifies his innovative, tonal drawing technique in which lines are avoided and forms rendered in a soft, fluid way.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Georges Pierre Seurat, French (Paris 1859 - 1891 Paris)
Hat, Shoes and Undergarments (Study for "Une baignade, Asnières)
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Black chalk on off-white modern laid paper
23.6 x 30.9 cm (9 5/16 x 12 3/16 in.)
frame: 38.7 × 48.9 cm (15 1/4 × 19 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • watermark: MICHAELLET
Emile Seurat. Félix Fénéon. [Buchholz Gallery, Curt Valentin, New York, NY]. [Cesar de Hauke of Jacques Seligmann & Co., New York, NY (by 1943-1948), sold]; to Lois Orswell, Pomfret Center, CT (1948-1993), gift; to Harvard University Art Museum, 1993.

1. In “George Seurat” (Editions Albin Michel, Paris, 1948), John Rewald lists the drawing as belonging to the Curt Valentin Collection, New York. A label, formerly on the back of the drawing’s frame from the Buchholz Gallery seems to confirm this provenance.
2. The drawing is listed in the 1942-1943 stock catalogs of Jacques Seligmann & Co., New York, indicating that it was with this dealer by that time.
3. Lois Orswell placed the drawing on deposit at the Fogg Art Museum from 1953 to 1955 (see Orswell catalogue pp. 372, 374). Orswell placed the work on long-term loan to the museum from 1969 to 1993.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Lois Orswell
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

John Rewald, Georges Seurat, Wittenborn & Co. (New York, NY, 1943), fig. 12

John Rewald, Georges Seurat, Wittenborn & Co. (New York, NY, 1946), fig. 12

Germain Seligman, The Drawings of Georges Seurat, Curt Valentin (New York, NY, 1947), no. 4, pl. IV

John Rewald, Georges Seurat, Albin Michel (Paris, France, 1948), fig. 23

John Rewald, "Modern Fakes of Modern Pictures", Art News (March 1953), vol. 52, no. 1, repr. p. 21

César M. de Hauke, Seurat et son Oeuvre, Grund (Paris, France, 1961), p. 170, cat. no. 593

Robert L. Herbert, Georges Seurat, 1859-1891, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1991), p. 289 +291

Nicholas Wadley, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Drawing, Dutton Studio Books, New York (New York, NY, 1991), p. 72, fig. 81

Michael F. Zimmermann, Seurat and the Art Theory of his Time, Fonds Mercator (Antwerp, 1991), p. 160, fig. 300, repr.

John Leighton and Richard Thomson, Seurat and the Bathers, National Gallery Publications/Yale University Press (London, 1997), p. 64, repr.

James Cuno, ed., A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass., Spring 2000), p. 66, repr.

Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 204, fig. 166, pp. 58, 177, 371, 374, 381

Robert L. Herbert, Seurat and the Making of "La Grande Jatte", exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago/University of California Press (Chicago, 2004), cat. no. 22, repr. (color), pp. 47, 273

Exhibition History

[Benefit exhibition for the Boston Arts Festival], Margaret Brown Gallery, Boston, 05/08/1956 - 05/29/1956

A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions of Prints and Drawings from 1480 to 1940, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/25/2000 - 07/02/2000

Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/21/2002 - 02/16/2003

Seurat and the Making of "La Grande Jatte", The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 06/16/2004 - 09/19/2004

Flowers of Evil: Symbolist Drawings, 1870–1910, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/21/2016 - 08/14/2016

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu