Overall 6 7/8 x 10 3/8 in. (17.5 x 26.4 cm); painted surface 6 5/8 x 10 in. (16.8 x 25.4 cm)
Gift of Bernice Richard, 1980
Not on view
Dated to 1878 or 1879, this is the earliest known of Seurat’s landscape oil sketches. His good friend, the artist Aman-Jean, remembered him painting it on site at Saint-Ouen, a northern suburb of Paris. Seurat introduced warm, orangey-brown hues into the composition by allowing the wood panel support to show through between his brushstrokes. This work was originally part of a double-sided panel that was divided after 1950 into two separate pictures. The other side, now in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, features a landscape with a copy after Puvis de Chavannes’s The Poor Fisherman (1881; Musée d’Orsay).
Félix Fénéon, Paris (by 1935–d. 1944; his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 30, 1947, no. 99 [recto and verso], as "Paysage au tas de bois," for Fr 191,000 to Courcelle); Courcelle (in 1947); sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 10, 1950, no. 122 [recto and verso], as "Paysage au tas de bois," for Fr 450,000; [Berès, Paris]; [Jacques Dubourg, Paris, in 1950]; Anna Maria Biondi, Beverly Hills (until 1951; her sale, Kende Galleries, New York, November 15, 1951, no. 90, as "Paysage," for $1,200); George N. Richard, New York (by 1954–d. 1973); his widow, Bernice Richard, New York (1973–80)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Georges Seurat, 1859–1891," September 24, 1991–January 12, 1992, no. 76.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Neo-Impressionism: The Circle of Paul Signac," October 1–December 31, 2001, no catalogue.
Félix Fénéon. Letter to Benedict Nicolson. 1938 [excerpt published in Ref. Nicolson 1962, p. 214], relates Aman-Jean's recollection of seeing Seurat paint it at Saint-Ouen; remarks that Aman-Jean dated it 1884–85; dates it himself to 1881, the year that Puvis exhibited "The Poor Fisherman" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) at the Salon, noting that Seurat copied Puvis's picture on the reverse.
Henri Dorra and John Rewald. Seurat: L'œuvre peint, biographie et catalogue critique. Paris, 1959, pp. 2–3, no. 3, ill., date it about 1879–80; state that the two sides of the panel [see Notes] were separated in 1951.
C. M. de Hauke. Seurat et son œuvre. Paris, 1961, vol. 1, pp. 4–5, no. 7, ill., dates it about 1881.
Benedict Nicolson. "Reflections on Seurat." Burlington Magazine 104 (May 1962), p. 214, believes that this picture "is unlikely to date before" 1881 [see Ref. Fénéon 1938].
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Seurat. [1st, French ed., 1973]. Milan, 1972, p. 91, no. 7, ill., dates it 1881–82; as in the Richard collection.
Charles S. Moffett inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1980–1981. New York, 1981, pp. 46–47, ill., dates it about 1881; notes that this "extremely simplified impression of the landscape along the Seine reflects Seurat's early inclination toward synthesis of form and a systematic brushstroke".
Richard Thomson. Seurat. Oxford, 1985, p. 57, remarks that, because it is a depiction of a suburb, it is not a "pure" landscape.
Michael F. Zimmermann. Seurat and the Art Theory of His Time. Antwerp, 1991, pp. 149, 458 n. 81, colorpl. 281, dates it about 1881.
Robert L. Herbert et al. Georges Seurat, 1859–1891. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1991, pp. 105, 109–10, 433, no. 76, ill. (color) [French ed., "Seurat", Paris, 1991, pp. 146, 149–50, no. 75, ill. (color)], dates it 1879, yet suggests that it was painted in 1878 or 1879; believes that it is Seurat's earliest surviving landscape.
The reverse of this panel originally depicted a copy by Seurat after Puvis de Chavannes's Poor Fisherman (Musée d'Orsay, Paris). The two sides of the panel were separated in 1950 or 1951, before the Biondi sale, when they were sold as nos. 90–91. The other work is in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris (DR4; H6).