Circus Sideshow and Seurat’s Career:Circus Sideshow is one of only six major figure paintings Seurat created during his short but influential career. Born and raised in Paris as the son of a customs official, he pursued classical art training, including at least three years at the École des Beaux-Arts, and spent a year (1879–80) in military service in Brest before establishing himself as a professional artist in France’s capital city. He first exhibited at the 1883 Salon, showing the conté crayon drawing of his friend Aman-Jean (later bequeathed to The Met by Stephen C. Clark, the same benefactor who donated Circus Sideshow). Seurat’s first large-scale painting, Bathers at Asnières (National Gallery, London), was rejected by the official Salon but debuted at the inaugural exhibition of the jury-free Salon des Indépendants in 1884. His next milestone, another daytime scene of outdoor leisure, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte––1884 (Art Institute of Chicago; final study in The Met’s collection) premiered at the eighth and final Impressionist exhibition in 1886 as a great succès de scandale, harkening a new direction for the painting of modern life with Seurat’s dotted touch, pixellated rendering of light, and stiff placement of figures in the landscape. The critic Félix Fénéon labeled the new technique Neo-Impressionism. It has also been called Pointillism (emphasizing the dotted brushwork) and Divisionism (accentuating the divided color tones); however, Seurat preferred the term Chromo-luminarism to highlight the effect of luminosity that was the objective of his approach. He amassed a following of like-minded artists eager to apply scientific and aesthetic principles to their pictures more rigorously and began displaying his work more widely, including at the Les XX exhibitions in Brussels. Following La Grande Jatte, Seurat turned his attention to an indoor daylight scene, Models (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia), to tackle the challenge of the classical nude. While that painting was underway, he began Circus Sideshow, his initial attempt to apply his method to a scene of nighttime outdoor entertainment. These two works were exhibited together with drawings at the 1888 Salon des Indépendants, where the larger Models attracted greater attention from critics. Nevertheless, Seurat continued to be fascinated with popular performance: his fifth major work, Chahut, of 1889–90 (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo), and last, Circus (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), painted the year of his death at age thirty-one, brought spectators inside the lively main events. Circus Sideshow stands apart––both in Seurat’s oeuvre and from works by other artists on the subject––for its solemn, mysterious aura, which has perplexed viewers and invited myriad interpretations since it was first seen in 1888.
The Sideshow Subject:Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque) represents an ensemble of circus players lined up on a narrow stage outside a tent performing sample entertainment to entice customers to their show. The French term parade describes this type of teaser or come-on act, which is loosely translated to "sideshow" in English. Although Seurat suppressed identifying details in favor of a stylized approach, his contemporaries, notably the critic Gustave Kahn (1888), recognized the cast of characters as the Corvi traveling circus troupe (see Additional Images, fig. 1) when the painting debuted at the Salon des Indépendants. In the spring of 1887, Seurat sketched the Corvi sideshow staged at the Gingerbread Fair (Foire au pain d’épice), an annual festival held after Easter in a working class quarter of eastern Paris around the place de la Nation. These fairs were a popular source of amusement in France for centuries and drew a wide range of visitors to experience their sundry attractions. Fairs and sideshows also provoked the interest of artists, especially during the nineteenth century when Daumier and caricaturists exploited their potential for political commentary; Naturalists seized upon their convergence of classes in animated scenes; poster-makers capitalized on their power of persuasion; and avant-garde artists from the Neo-Impressionists to Pablo Picasso and Georges Rouault embraced the familiar imagery of low-brow entertainment to test the boundaries of high art (Thomson 2017).
The Painting and Its Reception: At the center of Circus Sideshow, a trombonist wearing a conical hat stands on a dais with his lips pursed around the mouthpiece of his instrument. To the left, he is accompanied by four other musicians, whose instruments may be identified as, from the far side, an ophicleide or saxhorn, a clarinet, a cornet, and a second clarinet (per Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, Associate Curator, Musical Instruments). These four figures are set back in space from the trombonist’s dais on the main platform in front of the tent. Two horizontal railings cut through their bodies at the waist and knees, below which vertical balusters stand in for their legs. A diagonal banister behind the dais indicates the location of steps from ground level to the stage. To the right of the trombonist, a buffoon with a peaked hairstyle and ruffled collar turns to face off with a towering mustached man in profile sporting a formal tailcoat with a baton tucked under his arm. This character has often been referred to as Monsieur Loyal, the French moniker for a ringmaster; most recently, Richard Thomson (2017) postulated, on the basis of contemporary illustrations and photographs, that this is a portrait of Ferdinand Corvi, proprietor and ringmaster of the circus Seurat studied. Along the bottom of the picture, thirteen heads cast in shadow represent the mixed crowd witnessing this spectacle––male and female, young and old. On the left side, bowler hats suggest working class types, while the top hats and elaborate lady’s hats on the right indicate bourgeois patrons. Some watch the performance as others interact with their neighbors. At the right edge, the figures ascend the steps, from shadow into the light, to purchase tickets from the seller visible in the open box office window.
Through the long rectangular windowpanes, five globe lights glow from under the circus tent. Across the top, nine starbursts represent the shimmering exterior lights emitted from the gas-jetted pipe, connected by a slanting rod to the tent structure. Just below the rod and to the left of the green door leading to the main stage, a white sign indicating ticket prices is partially eclipsed by the form of the trombonist. Over his other shoulder, colorful ovals, which the critic Kahn (1888) identified as posters of the Corvi Circus, decorate the canvas backdrop of the tent. The branches of a spindly tree disrupt the geometric regularity of the composition with its rhythmic pattern of forms––the sequence of spiked lights; the round bowler hats, ovals, and zeroes; the green and purple rectangles; and the triangles created by the trombonist’s conical hat, cocked leg, and diagonal banister.
Seurat meticulously plotted the painting along a tripartite scheme, as reflected in the three extant preparatory drawings: The Tree (private collection; see Additional Images, fig. 2), The Trombonist (Philadelphia Museum of Art; fig. 3), and Ferdinand Corvi and Pony (private collection; fig. 4). A small dotted drawing in ink (Menard Art Museum, Aichi, Japan; fig. 5) and an oil study on panel (Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection, Zürich; fig. 6) reveal the artist’s plans for the overall composition and its range of tonal values and colors. Both of these include grid notations, which were discovered by Met conservator Charlotte Hale (2017) under the surface of the painting through macro-X-ray-fluorescence imaging and served to aid in both the transfer and final structuring of the picture. Seurat modified the composition by adding the tree, the figures climbing the stairs, and, at a later stage, the blue border, which effaced his signature in the lower right corner.
Seurat’s sense of compositional harmony derives in part from his close study of theoretical tracts, most notably Charles Blanc’s Grammaire des arts du dessin (1867). He also read the writings of such contemporary scientists as Michel Eugène Chevreul and Ogden Rood, mathematician Charles Henry, and artist Eugène Delacroix as he developed his aesthetic. He took a particular interest in color theory, and in Circus Sideshow exploited a palette of dominant violets and greens, with warmer tones for illuminated areas, to render penumbral light.
At the Salon des Indépendants in 1888, critics primarily commented on the novelty of the nighttime effect in their spare remarks on the picture. Félix Fénéon and Jules Christophe simply observed that Seurat had applied his method to a nocturnal scene. Paul Adam and Gustave Kahn noted the effects of gas lighting, although Kahn and particularly Gustave Geffroy found Seurat’s attempt to fall short. The work was next exhibited at the Les XX exhibition of 1892, after Seurat’s death, with similar reception. It remained in his family until 1900 and in relative obscurity into the first decades of the new century.
The reputation of Circus Sideshow began to rise in the 1920s alongside burgeoning interest in Cubism and classicism. In 1920 André Salmon, the French critic and defender of the Cubists, cited the painting as one of Seurat’s "vast synthetic compositions" that was misunderstood in its time but revealed "profound intention." At the end of the decade, Alfred H. Barr Jr., the influential founding director of the Museum of Modern Art, featured Circus Sideshow along the central axis of the museum’s opening exhibition and hailed it as the "most geometric in design as well as the most mysterious in sentiment" of Seurat’s major pictures (Barr 1929, MoMA catalogue). The same year, Roger Fry praised "the completeness with which the most literal facts of everyday life have been transmuted into the purest, most abstract of spiritual values." Three years later, Stephen C. Clark, trustee of MoMA and The Met, acquired the painting and regularly lent it to exhibitions, ensuring its familiarity to the American public (Stein 2017). He bequeathed Circus Sideshow to The Met upon his death in 1960, and it has left New York on only one occasion since––for the Paris venue of the 1991 Seurat retrospective.
Art historians have continued to grapple with deciphering Seurat’s intentions in the painting, especially in light of contemporary theories. Various scholars, including John Rewald (1956), Michael Zimmermann (1991), Robert Herbert (1958, 1980), Gary Tinterow (1991), and Thomson (2017) have debated the extent to which Seurat sought to apply Charles Henry’s ideas of the emotive potential of line and color in his composition dominated by strong horizontals (associated with calmness) and cool colors (associated with melancholy). Henri Dorra and John Rewald first proposed in 1959 that Seurat used the Golden Section to determine his geometric structure, an idea extended by Rubin in 1970, Herbert in 1980, and Zimmermann in 1991, but debunked by Herz-Fischler in 1983 and retracted by Herbert in 1991. Paul Smith (1991) introduced a possible connection to Wagnerian theory in the theatricality of the picture, taken up by Herbert (1991), Jonathan Crary (1999/2009), Richard Hobbs (2009), and Michelle Foa (2015). Writers have also considered literary sources for the painting, such as the poems suggested in Russell 1965 and Herbert 1980, and artistic sources, like Egyptian art (Barr 1929, Herbert 1962, 1980), Poussin (Fry 1929), Piero della Francesca (Boime 1965), Daumier (Herbert 1980, Thomson 2017), Rembrandt (Thomson 1985, 2017), Japanese prints (Dorra 1989, Thomson 2017), and Watteau (Tinterow 1991). In 1980, Herbert was the first to fully explicate the composition and its connections to contemporary illustrations of the Corvi Circus. Albert Boime (2008) interpreted the painting through the lens of contemporary politics, reading the painting as a statement on disillusionment over the populist General Boulanger, who sought in vain to restore one-man rule to France. Richard Thomson (1985, 2017) has elaborated on the social context of the picture, concluding that the painting is inherently paradoxical.
• Video in which Conservator Charlotte Hale, Department of Paintings Conservation, explores Seurat's gaslight effect.
• Web page accompanying the 2017 exhibition "Seurat's Circus Sideshow."
[Laura D. Corey 2017]
the artist, Paris (until d. 1891); his mother, Mme Ernestine Seurat, Paris (1891–at least 1892, and presumably until her death in 1898); the artist's brother and brother-in-law, Émile Seurat and Léon Appert, Paris (until 1900; sold with another work for Fr 1,000 through Félix Fénéon to Bernheim-Jeune); Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (1900–1929; sold on January 1, 1929 for £16,097 to Reid & Lefevre and Knoedler); [Reid & Lefevre, Glasgow and London, and Knoedler, New York, jointly owned in half-shares, 1929–32; sold by Knoedler, stock no. A610, in November 1932 for $47,000 to Clark]; Stephen C. Clark, New York (1932–d. 1960)
Pavillon de la Ville de Paris. "Salon des Indépendants (4e exposition)," March 22–May 3, 1888, no. 614 (as "Parade de cirque," marked for sale).
Brussels. Musée d'Art Moderne. "Neuvième exposition annuelle des XX," February 6–March 6, 1892, no. 10 (lent by Mme Seurat).
Pavillon de la Ville de Paris. "Salon des Indépendants (8e exposition)," March 19–April 27, 1892, no. 1084 (lent by Mme Seurat; dates it 1888).
Paris. Revue Blanche. "Georges Seurat (1860 [sic]–1891): Œuvres peintes et dessinées," March 19–April 5, 1900, no. 32 (dates it 1887–88).
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Georges Seurat (1859–1891)," December 14, 1908–January 9, 1909, no. 69 (lent by MM. J[osse]. and G[aston]. B[ernheim].-J[eune]; dates it 1887–88.).
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Exposition de peinture moderne," June 14–23, 1917, no. 30.
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Georges Seurat (1859–1891)," January 15–31, 1920, no. 28.
Paris. Théâtre de la Cigale. "Soirée de Paris: Exposition l'art au théâtre, au music-hall, et au cirque," May 17–June 30, 1924, no. 38 (as "La Parade," lent by MM. Bernheim).
Paris. Bernheim-Jeune. "Exposition d'oeuvres des XIXe et XXe siècles," June–July 1925, no. 116.
Paris. Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées. "Trente ans d'art indépendant: 1884–1914," February 20–March 21, 1926, no. 3216 (lent by MM. Bernheim-Jeune et cie.).
Lucerne. location unknown. "Peintures des écoles impressionniste et néo-impressionniste," February 1929, no. 20 [see de Hauke 1961].
Glasgow. Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd. "Ten Masterpieces by Nineteenth Century French Painters," April 1929, no. 8 (as "La Parade").
London. Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd. "Ten Masterpieces by Nineteenth Century French Painters," June–July 1929, no. 7 (as "La Parade").
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh," November 7–December 7, 1929, no. 55 (as "Side Show [La Parade]," lent by M. Knoedler and Company, New York, London, and Paris).
Providence. Rhode Island School of Design. "Modern French Art," March 11–31, 1930, no. 36 (lent by M. Knoedler & Co., New York).
Paris. Galerie Georges Petit. "Cent ans de peinture française," June 15–30, 1930, no. 31.
New York. Knoedler Galleries. "Masterpieces by Nineteenth Century French Painters," October–November 1930, no. 11.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "French Art: 1200–1900," January 4–March 12, 1932, no. 552 (lent by Roland F. Knoedler) [commemorative cat., no. 509].
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Exhibition of Modern European Art," October 4–25, 1933, unnumbered cat. (lent from a private collection).
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor. "French Painting from the Fifteenth Century to the Present Day," June 8–July 8, 1934, no. 148 (lent by Mr. Stephen C. Clark, New York; dates it 1889).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Modern Works of Art," November 20, 1934–January 20, 1935, no. 29 (lent from a private collection).
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition," June 26–October 4, 1936, no. 313 (lent by Mr. Stephen C. Clark, New York).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Art in Our Time," May 10–September 30, 1939, no. 76 (lent by Stephen C. Clark, New York).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Modern Masters from European and American Collections," January 26–March 24, 1940, no. 13 (lent by Stephen C. Clark, New York).
New York. World's Fair. "Masterpieces of Art: European & American Paintings, 1500–1900," May–October 1940, no. 366 (lent by Mr. Stephen C. Clark, New York).
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Art in Progress," May 24–October 15, 1944, unnumbered cat. (lent by Stephen C. Clark).
New York. Century Association. "Paintings from the Stephen C. Clark Collection," June 6–September 28, 1946, unnum. checklist.
New York. Century Association. "Trends in European Painting, 1880–1930," February 2–March 31, 1949, no. 3 (lent by Stephen C. Clark, New York).
New York. Knoedler Galleries. "Seurat, 1859–1891: Paintings and Drawings," April 19–May 7, 1949, no. 22 (lent by Stephen C. Clark, Esq.).
New York. M. Knoedler & Co. "A Collectors Taste: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Clark," January 12–30, 1954, no. 20.
New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Paintings from Private Collections," May 31–September 5, 1955, no. 139 (as "La parade [The Come-On]," lent by Stephen C. Clark).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 1–September 1, 1958, no. 124 (lent by Stephen C. Clark).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 7–September 7, 1959, no. 101 (lent by Stephen C. Clark).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings from Private Collections: Summer Loan Exhibition," July 6–September 4, 1960, no. 112 (lent by Stephen C. Clark).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "French Paintings from the Bequest of Stephen Clark," October 17, 1961–January 7, 1962, no catalogue (as "La Parade").
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Neo-Impressionism," February 9–April 7, 1968, no. 82.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 387 (as "Invitation to the Side-Show [La parade]").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 12, 1974–February 10, 1975, not in catalogue.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Seurat, 1859–1891," April 9–August 12, 1991, no. 198.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Georges Seurat, 1859–1891," September 24, 1991–January 12, 1992, no. 200.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Neo-Impressionism: The Circle of Paul Signac," October 1–December 31, 2001, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings: The Clark Brothers Collect," May 22–August 19, 2007, no. 378.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seurat's Circus Sideshow," February 17–May 29, 2017, unnumbered cat.
Félix Fénéon. "Le néo-impressionnisme à la IVe exposition des artistes indépendants." L'art moderne 8 (April 15, 1888), p. 122, notes that it is interesting in that it applies to a night scene a method mostly used for daylight.
Paul Adam. "Les impressionnistes à l'exposition des indépendants." La vie moderne (April 15, 1888), p. 229, calls it a fine study of relief and chiaroscuro.
Gustave Geffroy. "Pointillé–Cloisonisme." La Justice 9 (April 11, 1888), p. 1, criticizes it as having a thin look, with poor silhouettes, a wan appearance, and awkward contrasts.
Néo [Paul Signac]. "IVe Exposition des artistes indépendants." Le cri du peuple (March 29, 1888), p. 205?.
Gustave Kahn. "Peinture: Exposition des Indépendants." Revue indépendante de littérature et d'art 7 (1888), p. 161, identifies posters for the Corvi circus in the background; finds Seurat's attempt at depicting a gaslit scene to be not completely successful.
Jules Christophe. "Le Néo-Impressionnisme au pavillon de la ville de Paris." Le Journal des artistes 19 (May 6, 1888), pp. 147–48, calls it a "curieux essai d'effet nocturne" (curious experiment in nocturnal effect).
Rodolphe Darzens. "L'Exposition des Indépendants." La Revue Moderne (May 10, 1888), p. 446.
Félix Fénéon. "5e Exposition de la société des artistes indépendants." La vogue (September 1889), p. ? [reprinted in "L'art moderne," Brussels, October 27, 1889 and in Dorra and Rewald 1959], identifies the stage manager as the same figure as the bowler-hatted customs officer on the quai in Seurat's "Port-en-Bessin" (H188).
Theo van Gogh. Letter to Vincent van Gogh. [September 5, 1889] [Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. nos. b743 a-b V/1962, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let799/letter.html; pub. in Van Gogh Letters 2009, letter no. 799], states that Louis Hayet's evening scene of the Place de la Concorde under gaslight ("Five o'clock," 1889, private collection) reminds him of The Met's picture ("ce tableau des saltimbanques de Seurat," specifically identified in note 19 of the online edition).
Gustave Kahn. "Seurat." L'art moderne 11 (April 5, 1891), p. 110, calls it deliberately sad, and notes that it is Seurat's first representation of a night subject.
T. de Wyzewa. "Georges Seurat." L'Art dans les deux mondes no. 22 (April 18, 1891), p. 263, calls Seurat's figural compositions, including this work, tentative works in which he first applied methods that had yet to be defined.
Inventaire de l'atelier de Seurat. 1891 [published in Darragon 1991, pp. 288–89], mentions it and three of its "croquetons" remaining in the studio after Seurat's death.
Albert Arnay. "L'annuel des XX." Floréal 1 (March 1892), p. 84.
Eugène Demolder. "Chronique artistique: l'exposition des 'XX' à Bruxelles." La Société Nouvelle 8 (1892), p. 349, calls it less decisive than his "Le Cirque" (Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Pierre-M. Olin. "Les XX." Mercure de France 4 (April 1892), p. 341.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Entwicklungsgeschichte der Modernen Kunst. Stuttgart, 1904, vol. 1, pp. 231–32, dates it 1888 and states that it is in the J. and G. Bernheim collection, Paris.
Julius Meier-Graefe. Modern Art, Being a Contribution to a New System of Aesthetics. London, 1908, vol. 1, p. 314, as in the Bernheims' collection.
A. Shervashidze. "Georges Seurat (1859–81)." Apollon 2 (July 1911), ill. opp. p. 24, as in the Galerie Bernheim, Paris.
Lucie Cousturier. "Georges Seurat (1859–1891)." L'Art décoratif 27 (June 1912), pp. 357, 361, 368, ill. [reprinted as "Seurat," Paris, 1921, and later eds.].
L'Art moderne et quelques aspects de l'art d'autrefois; cent-soixante-treize planches d'après la collection privée de MM. J. & G. Bernheim-Jeune. Paris, 1919, vol. 2, pl. 151, as "La Parade".
Exposition Georges Seurat (1859–1891). Exh. cat., Bernheim-Jeune. Paris, 1920, unpaginated, no. 28, ill., dates it 1888.
Bissière. "Notes sur l'art de Seurat." L'esprit nouveau no. 1 (October 15, 1920), p. 23, ill., as in the collection of J. and G. Bernheim-Jeune; dates it 1887–89.
André Salmon. "Georges Seurat." Burlington Magazine 37 (September 1920), p. 121, includes it among a list of Seurat's works that were misunderstood by his contemporaries and which showed "profound intention".
Henri de Régnier. Vestigia flammæ; poèmes. Paris, 1921 [see Sutter 1970], mentions it in a poem.
André Lhote. Georges Seurat, avec 32 réproductions en phototypie. Rome, 1922, p. 13, ill. (unnumbered plate section).
Walter Pach. Georges Seurat. New York, 1923, pp. 27–29, ill. (unnumbered plate section), dates it 1889.
Charles Angrand. Letter to Gustave Coquiot. August 16, 1923 [published in "Charles Angrand: Correspondances, 1883–1926," 1988, p. 313], remarks that Seurat pointed out to him the complementary "haloes" around the gaslamps of Paris, an effect which he put to use in the painting.
Gustave Coquiot. Seurat. Paris, 1924, pp. 43, 134, 151, 186, 226–28, ill. opp. p. 80, reprints comments by Charles Angrand (1923); believes that it was executed in Seurat's studio in the "passage de l'Elysée des Beaux-Arts" [but see Fénéon 1924]; mentions the ten works that Seurat showed at the 1888 Indépendants exhibition, calling them all canvases [but see Fénéon 1924]; likens the trombone player to a figure by Velázquez; remarks on the equilibrium of the painting.
[Félix Fénéon]. "Précisions concernant Seurat." Bulletin de la vie artistique 5 (August 15, 1924), pp. 354–60, ill. (detail), disagrees with Coquiot (1924) that it was painted in the artist's studio by the Elysée-des-Beaux-Arts, and instead believes it was executed on boulevard de Clichy; notes that it was among ten paintings sold at the 1900 Revue Blanche exhibition, mistakenly stating that the exhibition took place in January, rather than March to April, 1900.
"Cologne has Exhibition of Art in Rhineland." New York Times (August 16, 1925), p. X6, notes that "in intensity of conception [it] dominates" the 1925 exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune.
Guy Eglington. International Studio 81 (July 1925), p. 289.
Henri Focillon. "Les salons de 1926." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 13 (May 1926), pp. 260–61, ill., as in the collection of MM. Bernheim-Jeune, Paris.
Lucie Cousturier. Seurat. Paris, 1926, pp. 12, 21, reprints Cousturier 1912 and 1921.
Les Dessins de Georges Seurat (1859–1891). Exh. cat., Bernheim-Jeune. Paris, 1926, unpaginated, ill., as in the Bernheim-Jeune collection; lists three drawings as studies for this painting; dates it 1887.
Félix Fénéon. "Georges Seurat und die Offentliche Meinung." Der Querschnitt 6 (October 1926), pp. 769, ill. opp. p. 770.
Ruth Green Harris. "Bits of Personal History Please Paris Art World." New York Times (January 23, 1927), p. X11.
Notice de Waldemar George. Seurat, 24 phototypies. Paris, , unpaginated, ill., as in the Bernheim Jeune collection.
Robert Allerton Parker. "The Drawings of Georges Seurat." International Studio 91 (September 1928), pp. 17, 21, 23, dates it 1889; states that it is in a French collection.
Gustave Kahn. Les dessins de Georges Seurat (1859–1891). Paris, 1928, vol. 1, unpaginated [English ed., 1971, pp. vii, xiii], mentions a discussion between himself and Seurat concerning Whistler's Ten O'Clock lecture (translated and published by Mallarmé in the Revue Indépendante in 1888), stating that Seurat agreed with Whistler's remark about the importance of depicting evening scenes, and relating this belief to Seurat's studies of artificial light, including this painting.
Henri Focillon. La Peinture aux XIXe et XXe siècles: Du réalisme à nos jours. Paris, 1928, p. 226, ill. p. 224, compares Seurat's emphasis on geometric volumes in this painting to the same tendency in his "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884" (1884/86, Art Institute of Chicago).
A[lfred]. H. B[arr]. Jr. First Loan Exhibition: Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1929, pp. 25–26, 43, no. 55, ill. (overall and detail), dates it 1889; calls it one of the most important paintings in the exhibition and remarks that "in its formality and symmetry the composition is quite without parallel in its day"; notes that the geometric perspective, similar to the "Grand Jatte," is here divided into three planes—the foreground of heads, the middle ground with the trombone player, and the backdrop with the other musicians—and believes Seurat was influenced in this respect, and in the frontality and rigidity of the figures, by Egyptian reliefs; calls it "the most geometric in design as well as the most mysterious in sentiment" of his major canvases.
Roger Fry. "Seurat's 'La Parade'." Burlington Magazine 55 (December 1929), pp. 290–91, 293, ill. (color), as in the collection of Messrs. Alex. Reid and Lefèvre Ltd.; remarks that "even among Seurat's works this picture seems . . . to be unique in the completeness with which the most literal facts of everyday life have been transmuted into the purest, most abstract of spiritual values"; discusses the simplification of forms and their relation to one another, comparing these qualities to Poussin.
"French Pictures: Exhibition in Glasgow." Glasgow Herald (April 22, 1929).
K. "French Masters: 10 Pictures Worth £250,000 on View in Glasgow." Glasgow Bulletin (April 16, 1929).
W. J. W. "Ten Masterpieces of French Art: Worth a Quarter of a Million." Glasgow Evening Times (April 16, 1929).
"Ten Great Pictures: City Exhibition is an Artistic Event." Glasgow Evening News (April 16, 1929).
International Studio 94 (December 1929), ill. p. 64, as courtesy of M. Knoedler and Co., calls it one of the seven great Seurat subjects.
"Un Musée d'art moderne à New-York." Beaux-Arts (October 15, 1929), p. 6, states that the picture is in the collection of "Knoedler et Cie" and that it will be in the Museum of Modern Art's first loan exhibition.
C. J. Bulliet. "Modern Museum Launched with Show of Giant[s?]." Chicago Evening Post (November 12, 1929), p. 1, calls the picture "one of the half dozen tremendous things [Seurat] did".
Alfred H. Barr Jr. "Modern Museum." Charm (November 1929), pp. 17, 84, discusses the high price it might bring if put up for sale and cites it as an example of great art formed as the result of "the most exquisite calculation".
Lillian Semons. "The Museum of Modern Art, Its Advent and Its First Show." Brooklyn New York Times (November 10, 1929), p. ?, notes that the picture holds the place of honor in the exhibition.
"New Modern Art Museum Opens Exhibit Today." New York Herald Tribune (November 7, 1929), p. 48.
J. F. "Items." New Yorker (November 30, 1929), p. 38.
Henry McBride. "New Museum of Modern Art, Now Open." New York Sun (November 9, 1929), p. 3, notes that the picture was lent by "the Knoedler's".
"Shows Modern Art Here Tomorrow." New York Times (November 7, 1929), p. 26.
Dorothy Grafly. "'Ancestor' Show Assembles Art of 'Modern' Pioneers." Philadelphia Public Ledger (November 10, 1929), p. 65?, ill., states that the picture "drew fire from artists and critics of the old school".
Walter Gutman. "In the Galleries: A Great Event." Springfield Republican (November 17, 1929), p. ?.
Alfred H. Barr Jr. "An American Museum of Modern Art." Vanity Fair (November 1929), p. 136, states that the picture will hold the place of honor in the Museum of Modern Art's first exhibition.
Cent ans de peinture française. Exh. cat., Galerie Georges Petit. Paris, 1930, unpaginated, no. 31, ill., dates it 1887–88.
Curt Glaser. "Pariser Saison." Kunst und Künstler 28 (October 1930), pp. 506, 508, ill.
Ruth Green Harris. "Masterpieces Abound: Three Exhibitions Contain Well Chosen Examples of the Work of Famous Artists." New York Times (November 2, 1930), p. X15.
Kasper Niehaus. "Georges Seurat." Elsevier's Geïllustreerd Maandschrift 40 (January–June 1930), pp. 299, 309, pl. LXIV, as "La Parade de Cirque"; dates it 1888.
Vincent van Gogh en zijn tijdgenooten. Exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum. Amsterdam, 1930, p. 92, dates it 1889.
Christian Zervos. "De Delacroix à nos jours—Une exposition-programme à la Galerie Georges Petit." Cahiers d'Art 5 (July 1930), ill. p. 257, as in the collection of Knoedler and Co., New York.
R. H. Wile[n]ski. French Painting. Boston, 1931, pp. 319, 321, dates it 1887–88 and incorrectly locates it in the Bernheim Jeune collection, Paris.
Robert Rey. La peinture française à la fin du XIXe siècle: la Renaissance du sentiment classique. Paris, 1931, pp. 123–24, 131, 144, reprints the May 3, 1891, inventory of Seurat's studio, which notes the presence of the canvas as well as four studies for it and three "croquetons"; remarks that the inventory was executed by Félix Fénéon, Maximilien Luce, and Paul Signac; states that the picture is in America and was formerly in the Bernheim Jeune collection.
Claude Roger-Marx. Seurat. Paris, 1931, p. 14, fig. 16, dates it 1890 but notes that it was in the 1888 exhibition of the Indépendants.
"Three Paintings from America to be Included in the Exhibition of French Art Opening in January at Burlington House, London." Parnassus 3 (December 1931), ill. p. 21, as in the collection of Knoedler's.
Exhibition of French Art, 1200–1900. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1932, pp. 248–49, no. 552, dates it 1887–88.
P. G. Konody and Xenia de Tunzelmen. An Introduction to French Painting. London, 1932, p. 223, ill. opp. p. 222, as "La Parade" and "The Parade" and mistakenly stated to be in the collection of S. Courtauld, Esq. by courtesy of Knoedler and Co., New York.
Elisabeth Luther Cary. "Seurat to Surrealisme." New York Times (July 16, 1933), p. X5, ill., remarks that it, and "La Grande Jatte," are "informed by something of the inflexibility of youth".
Alfred H. Barr Jr., ed. Modern Works of Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1934, pp. 12, 25, no. 29, pl. 29, dates it 1889.
René Édouard-Joseph. Dictionnaire biographique des artistes contemporains 1910–1930. Vol. 3, Paris, 1934, p. 295, ill., dates it 1888.
Jerome Klein. "Museum of Modern Art Celebrates Anniversary." Baltimore Sun (December 30, 1934), p. ?, notes that the painting "may still be ranked as one of the great things in modern art".
Daniel Catton Rich. Seurat and the Evolution of "La Grande Jatte". Chicago, 1935, p. 4 n. 3, p. 16 n. 2, notes that witnesses saw Seurat draw sketches directly from Montmartre performances for it and "Le Chahut".
André Lhote inEncyclopédie française. Vol. 16, part 1, Arts et littératures dans la société contemporaine. Paris, 1935, p. 16.30-7, ill. pp. 16.30-6, 16.31-7, illustrates a diagram of it and discusses its use of the divine proportion, which he believes gives the painting its beauty.
Marie Zoe Mercier. "Museum of Modern Art." Commonweal (February 15, 1935), p. ?, discusses its subtle composition of lines "as solemn as the progress of a freize [sic]".
Alfred H. Barr Jr. inCubism and Abstract Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1936, pp. 22, 223.
Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1936, p. 119, no. 313, pl. LXIX, dates it 1889.
William M. Milliken. "The Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition of the Cleveland Museum of Art." Art News 34 (June 13, 1936), pp. 13–14, ill.
William M. Milliken. "Superb Art Display Marks Cleveland Museum's 20th Anniversary." Art Digest 10 (July 1, 1936), p. 14, states that it must be ranked as one of the masterpieces of the century.
James Laver with notes on artists and pictures by Michael Sevier inFrench Painting and the Nineteenth Century. New York, 1937, p. 96, no. 136, ill., dates it 1887–88 and incorrectly locates it in the collection of Roland F. Knoedler, Esq., New York.
Edward Alden Jewell. "Gallery to Open in Capital Today." New York Times (November 14, 1937), p. 51.
Christian Zervos. Histoire de l'art contemporain. Paris, 1938, ill. p. 84, dates it 1890.
André Salmon. Propos d'atelier. Paris, 1938, p. 51.
James W. Lane. "Thirty-three Masterpieces in a Modern Collection: Mr. Stephen C. Clark's Paintings by American and European Masters." Art News Annual 37 (February 25, 1939), pp. 130, 133–34, ill. (color).
Art in our Time. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1939, unpaginated, no. 76, ill., dates it 1889; compares it to a Byzantine mosaic or Egyptian wall painting in its verticality; notes that "Seurat's laboriously scientific technique dissolves the natural forms into a kind of molecular dance and achieves at the same time an unearthly radiation of light".
"One of the Greatest Exhibitions of Modern Art Ever Assembled." The Standard (August 19, 1939), p. ?, notes that it bubbles with "pin-point carbonation".
R. H. Wilenski. Modern French Painters. New York, , pp. 94, 108, 257, 309, 348, dates it 1887–88; mentions the posthumous inventory of Seurat's studio, noting its presence and that of five drawings and three "croquetons" for it [but see Rey 1931 and Dorra and Rewald 1959, who reprint the inventory, cataloguing four drawings and three croquetons]; comments on the similarity in subject to Cocteau's 1917 ballet "Parade," with costumes and drop-scene by Picasso.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. "383 Masterpieces of Art." Art News (The 1940 Annual) 38 (May 25, 1940), p. 66.
Walter Pach inMasterpieces of Art: Catalogue of European and American Paintings, 1500–1900. Exh. cat., World's Fair. New York, 1940, pp. 240, 248, no. 366.
D[orothy]. C. M[iller]. Modern Masters from European and American Collections. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1940, pp. 8, 23, no. 13, ill.
Gaston Bernheim de Villers. Petites histoires sur de grands artistes. Paris, 1940, p. 117, states that he bought this picture and "Port de Granville" from Félix Fénéon for one thousand francs and calls them among the most important paintings by Seurat; notes that he first met Fénéon at the Revue Blanche.
Alfred M. Frankfurter. ". . . And the Modern Masters." Art News 38 (January 27, 1940), p. 30, ill., notes that it was created in the tradition of Masaccio and Piero della Francesca.
Robert J. Goldwater. "Some Aspects of the Development of Seurat's Style." Art Bulletin 23 (June 1941), pp. 121–25, 126 n. 28, 127, 129–30, fig. 16, dates it 1888–89; discusses the conté-crayon study for the trombone player (DR 180b; H 680) and the oil sketch (DR 180; H 186); describes in detail the spatial composition of the finished picture.
Bernard Dorival. La peinture française. Paris, 1942, vol. 2, p. 115, pl. XLVI.
Bernard Dorival. Les étapes de la peinture française contemporaine. Vol. 1, De l'impressionisme au fauvism, 1883–1905. [Paris], 1943, pp. 242, 245–47, dates it 1888.
John Rewald. Georges Seurat. [2nd, revised ed. 1946; French ed. 1948]. New York, 1943, pp. 58, 70, 72, 79 n. 125, fig. 77, dates it 1887–88.
Art in Progress. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1944, pp. 30, 224, ill., dates it 1889.
Lionello Venturi. "The Art of Seurat." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 26 (July 1944), p. 427.
Jacques de Laprade. Georges Seurat. Monaco, 1945, pp. IV, VII, ill. p. 48, dates it 1887–88.
John Rewald. Georges Seurat. 2nd rev. ed. [1st ed., 1943]. New York, 1946, pp. 58, 70, 72, 79 n.125, fig. 77.
Bernard Dorival. Images de la peinture française contemporaine. Paris, , p. 15, dates it 1890.
Germain Seligman. The Drawings of Georges Seurat. New York, 1947, pp. 11–12, 17, 19–21, 23–25, 28, 38, 59, under nos. 21–23, p. 60, under no. 24, dates it 1888; dates the earliest drawings relating to it from 1881–82, noting that Seurat worked on the theme for about six years before completing the final painting; catalogues and discusses six drawings which he relates to this painting.
Alonzo Lansford. "Clark Collection Shown for Charity." Art Digest 22 (March 15, 1948), p. 9.
André Lhote. Seurat. Paris, 1948, p. 11.
Howard Devree. "Stephen C. Clarks Open Art Show at Home to Help Fresh Air Association of St. John." New York Times (April 2, 1948), p. 21.
John Rewald. Georges Seurat. Paris, 1948, pp. 117, 127, 137–38, fig. 82.
Trends in European Painting 1880–1930. Exh. cat., Century Association. New York, 1949, unpaginated, no. 3, ill., dates it 1887–88.
Seurat, 1859–1891: Paintings and Drawings. Exh. cat., Knoedler Galleries. New York, 1949, unpaginated, no. 22, ill.
John Rewald. Seurat (1859–1891). [1st ed.]. Paris, [1949?], unpaginated, fig. 39, states that Seurat began work on the painting in the fall of 1887, and dates it 1887–88 in the caption.
John Rewald. "Seurat: The Meaning of the Dots." Art News 48 (April 1949), pp. 26, 62–63, ill. (color), states that gaslit scenes like this one and "Le Chahut" (Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo) show much stronger colorations than Seurat's land- and seascapes, and that these two works also reveal more clearly his theories on relating lines and curves.
R[eginald]. H[oward]. Wilenski. Seurat (1859–1891). Exh. cat., Faber Gallery. London, 1949, pp. 2, 5, erroneously states that it is in the "Merion Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia)".
Howard Devree. "Seurat Art Show Will Assist Blind." New York Times (April 19, 1949), p. 23.
Lionello Venturi. Impressionists and Symbolists. Vol. 2, New York, 1950, p. 152, dates it 1887–89 and notes that it was painted in the studio.
Jacques de Laprade. Seurat. Paris, 1951, pp. 18, 63, 81–83, 87, ill., calls it melancholic.
Dora Panofsky. "Gilles or Pierrot? Iconographic Notes on Watteau." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 39 (May–June 1952), p. 325 n. 19, cites an eighteenth-century definition of the French word "parades," and lists this picture as a later representation of the same idea.
A Collector's Taste: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen C. Clark. Exh. cat., M. Knoedler & Co. New York, 1954, unpaginated, no. 20, ill., dates it 1889 but places it in the Salon des Indépendants of 1888.
Aline B. Louchheim. "Rare Art Works on View Tonight." New York Times (January 11, 1954), p. 19.
Introduction by Alfred H. Barr Jr. "Paintings from Private Collections." Museum of Modern Art Bulletin 22 (Summer 1955), pp. 14, 35, no. 139, ill. (installation photo).
Paintings from Private Collections. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1955, p. 19.
James Thrall Soby. "Collectors' Choice." The Saturday Review (July 2, 1955), p. 34?, calls it one of the artist's most influential masterpieces.
Emily Genauer. "Modern Art Museum's Loan Exhibit on Today." New York Herald Tribune (June 2, 1955), p. 26, calls it "the famous 'La Parade'".
John Rewald. Post-Impressionism: From Van Gogh to Gauguin. 1st ed. New York, 1956, pp. 141–42, 420, 427, 516, 543, states that Seurat began work on this picture in the fall of 1887 and that his attempts to apply Charles Henry's theories were strongest in works produced over that winter.
William I. Homer. "Seurat's Port-en-Bessin." Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin 46 (Summer 1957), pp. 34, 36, 38.
Etienne Gilson. Painting and Reality. New York, 1957, p. 43, pl. 15.
Pierre Courthion. Paris des temps nouveaux. Geneva, 1957, pp. 44, 46, ill. (color).
Robert L. Herbert. "Seurat in Chicago and New York." Burlington Magazine 100 (May 1958), p. 152, comments on its close ties to the theories of Charles Henry and notes the existence of a document in the Signac Archives that includes a preliminary study for the architectural background of the painting, together with notations from Henry's "Une Esthétique Scientifique" (Paris, 1885).
Daniel Catton Rich, ed. Seurat: Paintings and Drawings. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 1958, pp. 17–18.
Meyer Schapiro. "New Light on Seurat." Art News 57 (April 1958), pp. 22, 45, fig. 3 (detail), calls it "Side Show" and compares the silhouette of the trombonist to Seurat's depiction of the Eiffel Tower (1889, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco).
John O'Connell Kerr. "Seurat the Silent Post-Impressionist." The Studio 155 (May 1958), p. 133.
Alfred Frankfurter. "Midas on Parnassus." Art News Annual 28 (1959), p. 39, ill., dates it 1889; states incorrectly that it sold for about $85,000 in 1932.
Henri Dorra and John Rewald. Seurat: L'œuvre peint, biographie et catalogue critique. Paris, 1959, pp. XXII, XXIV, LXII–LXIV, LXVII, LXXV–LXXVI, LXXVIII, XCII–XCIV, C, CIV n. 46, pp. CIX–CX, 224–227, no. 181, ill., note that, while the painted border was added by Seurat, the original painted frame has disappeared; state that it was begun in the winter of 1887, completed by the beginning of 1888, and exhibited in March 1888, remarking that he completed the work much more quickly than his other large paintings; note that they have found only four drawings and one croqueton of the four drawings and three croquetons for the painting listed in the inventory (DR 180 a-c, 180, 181a); analyze the composition, including Seurat's use of the Golden Section ratio, reproducing an image of it with compositional axes applied to it; state that it was sold by the Seurat family to Bernheim-Jeune shortly after 1900.
William I. Homer. "Henri Dorra and John Rewald, Seurat; l'œuvre peint; biographie et catalogue critique." Art Bulletin 42 (September 1960), pp. 229, 231, believes that a drawing traditionally thought to be a study for "Les Poseuses" is actually a conté crayon drawing for the woman third from the left in the row of spectators; notes that the finished painting does not show this figure's torso but that the profile of the head and neck are visible.
"Ninety-first Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year 1960–1961." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 20 (October 1961), pp. 44, 64, ill.
C. M. de Hauke. Seurat et son œuvre. Paris, 1961, vol. 1, pp. IX, XXVI, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, 150–53, 197, 211, 222, 228–29, 231, 239, 246, 250, no. 187, ill., dates it 1888; publishes a list written by Madeleine Knobloch to M. Luce after the death of Seurat indicating which paintings were to stay in her possession and which were to stay in the Seurat family, the latter group including this work; publishes early exhibition catalogues that included it; lists fifteen studies for it, including one panel and fourteen drawings.
Stephen C. Clark Art Collection and House. New York, 1961, unpaginated, no. 9, ill. (color).
Stuart Preston. "Metropolitan Museum Displays Paintings and Drawings Received in 1960." New York Times (October 17, 1961), p. 47, states that it casts the scene into "an almost Egyptian mold of impersonal grandeur".
François Mathey. The Impressionists. New York, 1961, pp. 248, 285, ill. (color) [French ed., "Les Impressionnistes et leur temps," Paris, 1959].
Robert L. Herbert. Seurat's Drawings. New York, 1962, pp. 127–28, 131, 174, 181, colorpl. VIII, as "The Parade (Sidewalk Fair)"; believes it was begun in 1886, on the basis of the date of an unpublished study in a private collection in Paris, and first completed in 1888; finds that the palette exactly matches his 1890 works, which together with an examination of the surface brushwork leads him to postulate that the canvas was reworked in 1890; disagrees with de Hauke [see Ref. 1961], who calls "Acrobat by the Ticket Booth" (H671) a study for it, stating that the date of the drawing is "well before 1887" and that its subject never entered into any phase of the creation of the painting; comments on the influence of Egyptian art.
Charles Bouleau. Charpentes: La géométrie secrète des peintres. [Paris], 1963, pp. 210, 216, ill.
William Innes Homer. Seurat and the Science of Painting. Cambridge, Mass., 1964, pp. 164, 175–79, 183, 188, 219–220, 223, 229, 240, 246, 298 n. 42, p. 300 n. 53, p. 303 n. 81, fig. 49, as "La Parade de cirque"; discusses the color technique of the picture, as well as Seurat's application of the theories of Ogden Rood and Charles Henry.
J[ean].-F[rançois]. Revel. "Charles Henry et la science des arts." L'Oeil no. 119 (November 1964), p. 44.
Meyer Schapiro. "Seurat: Reflections." Art News Annual 29 (1964), pp. 25, 41, ill. (color).
John Russell. Seurat. New York, 1965, pp. 11, 76, 78, 197, 212, 214–16, 218–19, 222, 226, colorpl. 194, dates it between the fall of 1887 and the beginning of 1888; discusses five drawings (H381, 382, 384, 385, and 386) that "look forward" to it and "Le Cirque"; states that "no amount of geometry can hide the fact that this picture offers a criticism of society" and calls Rimbaud's poem "Parade," which appeared on May 13, 1886, in "La Vogue," one of the origins of the painting; believes both artist and poet saw the circus as "a mirror to the condition of mankind in the new-made industrial cities of the late nineteenth century".
William A. Camfield. "Juan Gris and the Golden Section." Art Bulletin 47 (March 1965), p. 131, fig. 1, after p. 132.
Albert Boime. "Seurat and Piero della Francesca." Art Bulletin 47 (June 1965), p. 267, fig. 6, compares it, in its "strong axiality and the severe architectural framework," to Piero della Francesca's "Discovery and Proof of the Cross" (San Francesco, Arezzo), which Seurat could have known through reproductions in the photograph collection of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts or through a copy hanging in the chapel of the Ecole; calls Piero influential in Seurat's early development.
Anthony Blunt in Roger Fry. Seurat. London, 1965, pp. 7–8, 74, 77, 83–85, colorpls. 39–40 (overall and detail).
Carla Lonzi. Georges Seurat. Milan, , unpaginated, ill. (overall and detail) and colorpl. X–XI.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 193, 197–200, ill., mention a similarly patterned background and a row of silhouetted heads in an illustration by Gavarni in "Le Diable à Paris," 1846, which they say Seurat could have known; believe the painted border to be by the artist.
Margaretta M. Salinger. "Windows Open to Nature." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (Summer 1968), unpaginated, ill., dates it 1887–88.
Robert L. Herbert. Neo-Impressionism. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York, 1968, pp. 99, 118–19, no. 82, ill. (color), as "La Parade (Une Parade de Cirque)"; dates it 1886–88; identifies the site as the Cirque Corvi; suggests Charles Blanc's "Grammar of the Arts of Design" as a possible inspiration for the picture.
Max Kozloff. "Neo-Impressionism and the Dream of Analysis." Artforum 6 (April 1968), p. 44, dates it 1888 and discusses it in relation to the interest in Symbolism among the Neo-Impressionists.
Pierre Courthion. Georges Seurat. 1st ed. New York, , pp. 11, 32, 40, 44, 46–48, 138, 140–41, ill. (color), dates it 1888; postulates that Seurat met Madeleine Knoblock while painting this picture; calls it "perhaps the sole work of nineteenth-century painting that unequivocally anticipates Cubism (and even Purism)".
Introduction by Kenneth Clark. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 320, no. 387, ill.
Jean Sutter inThe Neo-Impressionists. Ed. Jean Sutter. Greenwich, Conn., 1970, pp. 19, 22, 231, ill., as "Circus Parade".
Mark Roskill. Van Gogh, Gauguin, and the Impressionist Circle. Greenwich, Conn., 1970, pp. 89, 96–97, 298, pl. 76, dates it 1886–88; remarks that Van Gogh probably saw the preliminary studies for it on a visit to Seurat's studio, and suggests that the depiction of gas lights influenced the rays of light in Van Gogh's "Night Café".
J[ames]. H[enry]. Rubin. "Seurat and Theory: The Near-Identical Drawings of the Café-Concert." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 76 (October 1970), pp. 239, 243.
Robert L. Herbert inThe Neo Impressionists. Ed. Jean Sutter. Greenwich, Conn., 1970, pp. 34–35, 41, ill. p. 46, as "Circus Parade".
Niels Luning Prak. "Seurat's Surface Pattern and Subject Matter." Art Bulletin 53 (September 1971), pp. 372, 375, 378, notes Seurat's device of "cutting off" the corners of his compositions at a 45-degree angle, seen here at lower right.
Theodore Reff. "Harlequins, Saltimbanques, Clowns, and Fools." Artforum 10 (October 1971), p. 40.
Louis Hautecœur. Georges Seurat. Milan, 1972, pp. 30, 42, 48, 53–56, 64–66, 68, 70, 83, ill. (color).
Fiorella Minervino inL'opera completa di Seurat. [1st, French ed., 1973]. Milan, 1972, pp. 7, 85, 87, 90, 106–8, no. 188, ill. p. 107 and colorpl. LII-LIII.
Iku Takenaka et al. Seurat et le néo-impressionnisme. [Tokyo], 1972, p. 110, no. 10, ill. (color and black and white).
Mitsuhiko Kuroe. Pissarro/Sisley/Seurat. Tokyo, 1973, p. 142, no. 63, ill. (color and black and white).
Violette de Mazia. "Creative Distortion: III. In Portraiture." Barnes Foundation Journal of the Art Department 4 (Autumn 1973), p. 16 n., pl. 42.
Carl R. Baldwin. The Impressionist Epoch. Exh. brochure, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. [New York], 1974, pp. 19–20.
Lydie Huyghe in René Huyghe. La Relève du réel: la peinture française au XIXe siècle: impressionnisme, symbolisme. Paris, 1974, pp. 242, 465, figs. 226–27.
Edward B. Henning. "Plane, Structue, Color, and Content." Cleveland Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (September 1974), p. 231, fig. 16.
John Russell. "Met Museum Serves Up A Feast of Impressionism." New York Times (December 12, 1974), p. 58.
Douglas Cooper. Alex Reid & Lefevre 1926–1976. [London], 1976, pp. 84–85, ill.
Roger Copeland. "An Avant-Gardist Toys With the Past." New York Times (March 7, 1976), p. D13.
Peter F. Blume. French Masterpieces of the 19th Century from the Henry P. McIlhenny Collection. Exh. cat., Allentown Art Museum. Allentown, Pa., 1977, p. 82.
Antoine Terrasse. Seurat's Universe. Paris, 1977, p. 58.
Maurice Sérullaz inPhaidon Encyclopedia of Impressionism. Oxford, 1978, pp. 181–82, ill., dates it 1887–88.
Eleanor Pearson. "Seurat's 'Le cirque'." Marsyas 19 (1978), p. 48.
Norma Broude, ed. Seurat in Perspective. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1978, p. 9 n. 13, p. 11 n. 19, pp. 121 n. 1, 177, p. 179, fig. 21, dates it winter 1887–early 1888.
Bernard Denvir. "Beyond the Picturesque." Art & Artists 13 (December 1978), pp. 21–23.
Robert Goldwater. Symbolism. New York, 1979, p. 141, fig. 117, dates it 1888–89.
Richard Shone. The Post-Impressionists. London, 1979, pp. 43–44, pl. 37.
[Sarane] Alexandrian. Seurat. New York, 1980, pp. 66–67, 77–78, 85, 93, ill. (color).
John House. "Meaning in Seurat's Figure Paintings." Art History 3 (September 1980), pp. 352, 356 n. 28, pl. 57.
Theodore Reff. "Picasso's Three Musicians: Maskers, Artists & Friends." Art in America 68 (December 1980), p. 138, fig. 19 (color), compares it with Picasso's "Three Musicians" and suggests that Picasso could have seen it when it was exhibited in June 1917 or January 1920.
Robert L. Herbert. "'Parade de cirque' de Seurat et l'esthétique de Charles Henry." Revue de l'art 50 (1980), pp. 9–23, fig. 1 (color) and ill. on cover (color detail), remarks that after its exhibition at the Salon des Indépendants of 1888, it became one of Seurat's least admired works, defended mainly by Félix Fénéon; reproduces photographs and illlustrations of the Cirque Corvi; notes that an illustration by Heidbrink of the fair confirms the purpose of the metal bar running across the top of the composition as a support for the gas lamps; connects a sheet of notes and sketches by Seurat with his use of the Golden Section ratio and Charles Henry's and Humbert de Superville's ideas about expression in art; discusses the possible influence on Seurat of Egyptian art, popular imagery, and Daumier's circus scenes; relates the picture's mood to the French tradition of the sad clown, and interprets the picture as a comment on the vanity of all human pursuit of pleasure.
Didier Semin. "Note sur Seurat et le cadre." Avant-Guerre sur l'art, etc. 1 (1980), pp. 57–58, lists it among Seurat's paintings known to have frames painted by the artist.
Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov. Vincent van Gogh and the Birth of Cloisonism. Exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario. Toronto, 1981, p. 240, fig. 86, finds the setting similar to Louis Anquetin's "Avenue de Clichy: Five O'Clock in the Evening" (1887, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford).
Robert Rosenblum. "Fernand Pelez, or The Other Side of the Post-Impressionist Coin." Art, The Ape of Nature: Studies in Honor of H. W. Janson. Ed. Moshe Barasch and Lucy Freeman Sandler. New York, 1981, pp. 711–12, fig. 4, compares this picture to Pelez's "Grimaces et misère" (Musée du Petit Palais, Paris), exhibited at the Salon of 1888, but believes that the similarities between the two paintings are "clearly not a question of influence but rather of common sources in life, academic training, and popular imagery".
Patrizia Magnani. "Produzione di musica e rappresentazione." Casabella 45, no. 473 (1981), ill. p. 52.
Joel Isaacson. "Impressionism and Journalistic Illustration." Arts Magazine 56 (June 1982), p. 114 n. 46.
Françoise Cachin inManet, 1832–1883. Ed. Françoise Cachin and Charles S. Moffett. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1983, p. 102.
Claudia Gianferrari, ed. Metropolitan Museum, New York. Milan, 1983, pp. 79, 155, colorpl. 90.
Erich Franz and Bernd Growe. Georges Seurat, Zeichnungen. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle Bielefeld. Munich, 1983, pp. 86–87, 91 nn. 25–26, 193, 199, colorpl. 14 [English ed., 1984].
Roger Herz-Fischler. "An Examination of Claims Concerning Seurat and 'The Golden Number'." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 101 (March 1983), pp. 109–12 n. 12, refutes claims that Seurat consciously used the Golden Number in this and other works and theorizes instead that he used "a system of proportion [involving] simple ratios" that happen to approximate the Golden Section.
Jo Ann Wein. "Delacroix's 'Street in Meknes' and the Ideology of Orientalism." Arts 57 (June 1983), p. 108, fig. 3.
Charles F. Stuckey. Seurat. Mount Vernon, N.Y., 1984, pp. 23–24, 32 n. 8, colorpl. 11.
Lincoln Kirstein. Four Centuries of Ballet: Fifty Masterworks. New York, 1984, pp. 210, 271, fig. 407.
Nan Robertson. "Patinkin Sits for a Portrait." New York Times (May 22, 1984), p. C11.
Edward B. Henning. "'Woman in the Waves' by Paul Gauguin." Bulletin of The Cleveland Museum of Art 71 (October 1984), p. 283, fig. 5.
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, pp. 11, 226–27, 255, ill. (color), notes that it was generally called "féerique" (enchanted) by Seurat's contemporaries.
Richard Thomson. Seurat. Oxford, 1985, pp. 133, 141, 147–48, 152–56, 166, 168, 176, 185, 197, 205, 209, 212, 214, 220–23, 231 n. 80, colorpl. 154, discusses the picture's composition, subject, and reception; states that it seems to have been executed "quite hastily, both as an antidote to Seurat's frustration with the lagging 'Les Poseuses' (1886–88, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia), and as an experiment with unapplied aesthetic theories" and notes its new shared compositional concerns with the Philadelphia picture; discusses the division of the audience along class lines, with workers at the left and bourgeois visitors on the right; relates it to earlier popular prints of and writings on the same subject and to a drypoint by Rembrandt, "Christ Presented to the People" (1655, e.g. The Met, 41.1.36).
Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, pp. 10, 69, colorpl. 49.
Alan Lee. "Seurat and Science." Art History 10 (June 1987), pp. 218, 221–22, discusses the illumination in the picture as part of Seurat's chromo-luminarism.
Joan Ungersma Halperin. Félix Fénéon: Aesthete & Anarchist in Fin-de-Siècle Paris. New Haven, 1988, pp. 115, 126–30, ill., notes that when painting The Met's picture Seurat probably took into account Fénéon's comments in "L'Art Moderne" from May 1, 1887, regarding the viewer's difficulties in correctly perceiving the artificially illuminated Paris street scene at night in Charles Angrand's "An Accident".
Herbert Wotte. Georges Seurat: Wesen, Werk, Wirkung. Dresden, 1988, pp. 47, 65, 72–77, 79, 82, 94, 96, 110, 210, 216, colorpl. 73.
Françoise Cachin. "Van Gogh and the Neo-Impressionist Milieu." Vincent van Gogh: International Symposium. Ed. Shuji Takashina et al. Tokyo, 1988, pp. 235–36, notes that Vincent van Gogh was particularly struck by the painting when seeing it nearly finished in Seurat's studio and posits that Van Gogh's first large night scene (private collection, Paris) was made as a challenge to Seurat's painting.
Éric Darragon. "Pégase à Fernando: A propos de Cirque et du réalisme de Seurat en 1891." Revue de l'art no. 86 (1989), pp. 48–49.
Jean-Claude Lebensztejn. Chahut. Paris, 1989, pp. 14, 17, 25–26, 31–32, 67–70, 83, 91, 116, 119, 124, 137, 138 n., pp. 143, 149, ill., identifies the instruments played by the musicians in the picture; discusses the class divisions in the picture in terms of the practicalities of the ticket prices; mistakenly states that Clark bought it from Knoedler in 1933.
Henri Dorra. "Japanese Sources for Two Paintings by Seurat." Gazette des beaux-arts, 6th ser., 114 (September 1989), pp. 95–97, 99, fig. 1, states that the spectators in the foreground were derived from Kobayashi Kiyochika's design for the colored woodblock "Fireworks at Shinobazu Pond" and that Seurat was possibly also influenced by this woodblock to represent the circus at night.
Kenneth E. Silver. Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1914–1925. Princeton, 1989, pp. 341–42, discusses it as a source for Fernand Léger's new sense of architectonic classicism in his "Le Grand Déjeuner" (1921, Museum of Modern Art, New York).
Rodolphe Rapetti inL'art du XIXe siècle, 1850–1905. Paris, 1990, p. 75.
MaryAnne Stevens inThe Passionate Eye: Impressionist and Other Master Paintings from the Collection of Emil G. Bührle, Zurich. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. Zürich, 1990, p. 184, fig. 65a.
Jonathan Crary inSeurat at Gravelines: The Last Landscapes. Exh. cat.Indianapolis, 1990, pp. 62–63.
William M. Butler inSeurat at Gravelines: The Last Landscapes. Exh. cat.Indianapolis, 1990, p. 69.
John Rewald. Seurat: A Biography. New York, 1990, pp. 159, 162, 164, 167, 178, 193, 199, 220 n. 14, p. 229, ill. (color, overall and details).
Alain Madeleine-Perdrillat. Seurat. New York, 1990, pp. 109–18, 124, 126, 141, 147, 150, 157–58, 167, 207–9, 213, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Catherine Grenier. Seurat: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1990, pp. 9, 123–25, 154, no. 188, ill. (color).
Martin Kemp. The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat. New Haven, 1990, p. 318.
Milton Esterow. "Masterpiece Theater." Art News 89 (Summer 1990), pp. 133–34, ill. (color).
Michael F. Zimmermann. Seurat and the Art Theory of His Time. Antwerp, 1991, pp. 44, 216, 262, 268, 289, 296, 306, 317, 320, 324–25, 335, 337, 345–50, 354–56, 362, 364–66, 372, 374, 377–79, 388, 418, 440, 442, 446, 448, 270 nn. 81, 126, ill. p. 322 (color detail), fig. 495 (color), dates it 1888; remarks that the painting depicts a full brass band, including a trombone and a double-bass, to underline the melancholy atmosphere; notes that the use of the golden section governs its geometric structure; calls it a hieratic style that stylizes everyday life into a ritual; mentions the yellowish-violet nocturnal light, Seurat's adoption of the basic pessimism of Symbolism, and his use of "Egyptian" techniques of geometric arrangement; identifies certain contemporary figures; states that "the human urge to the sensational is here immortalized as a ceremonial"; discusses studies for it as well as popular prints and photographs of the Cirque Corvi; compares it to the contemporary vogue for Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy; discusses its negative reception from the critics; relates the bare tree and the figure at right, facing right, to the tree and the fishermen in "Le Pont de Courbevoie, hiver" (Courtauld Institute Galleries, London).
Luc de Nanteuil. "Seurat: une certaine révolution." Connaissance des arts no. 470 (April 1991), pp. 38, 42.
Richard Thomson inToulouse-Lautrec. Exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London. New Haven, 1991, p. 231 [French ed., "Seurat," Paris, 1991], dates it 1888.
Richard Tilston. Seurat. London, 1991, pp. 22, 25–26, 28, 130, 132–33, 136, 150, 170, ill. (color), calls it "La Parade de Cirque"; discusses Seurat's use of Degas's pictorial device of locating the spectator behind the front row of the audience; calls a poster for the Cirque Corvi the compositional source for the painting; contrasts its "calm and stillness" to the vibrancy of "Le Chahut" (1889–90, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo); notes the use of differing headgear to indicate the different classes and that "Le Cirque" (ca.1890–91, Musée d'Orsay, Paris) similarly presents a cross section of Parisian society.
John Russell. "Seurat Beckons to Many Worlds Beyond the Dot." New York Times (April 28, 1991), p. H33.
Michael Kimmelman. "Seurat: The Enigma Behind the Luster." New York Times (September 22, 1991), pp. H1, H35, ill.
Catherine Strasser. Seurat: Cirque pour un monde nouveau. Paris, 1991, pp. 5, 15, 19, 46, 52, 62.
Richard Kendall. "Highlights and Shadows: Seurat Retrospective at the Grand Palais." Apollo 133 (June 1991), pp. 420–21.
Paul Smith. "Was Seurat's Art Wagnerian? And What if it Was?" Apollo 133 (July 1991), pp. 24–26, 28, colorpl. 1, discusses the composition in relation to Wagnerian theory, especially as interpreted by Téodor de Wyzewa, critic and editor of "La Revue wagnérienne".
Anne Distel inGeorges Seurat, 1859–1891. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1991, pp. 360–61, 363, 408 [French ed., "Seurat," Paris, 1991, pp. 39, 410–11, 413], compares the socially-defining head gear in "Cirque" (1890–91, Musée d'Orsay, Paris) to that of The Met's picture.
Françoise Cachin. Seurat: Le rêve de l'art-science. Paris, 1991, pp. 96–99, 101, 111, 141, ill. (color).
Guy Burn. "Letter from Paris." Arts Review 43 (May 17, 1991), p. 242, ill.
Seurat: Correspondances, témoignages, notes inédites, critiques. Ed. Hélène Seyrès. Paris, 1991, pp. 86, 166–67, 202, 288–89, 322, reprints several references that mention this work, as well as an inventory of Seurat's studio at his death, listing this work and several drawings and sketches for it.
Robert L. Herbert inGeorges Seurat, 1859–1891. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1991, pp. 3, 68, 233, 262–63, 266, 272, 327, 342, 376, 392–93, 433, ill. (color detail, frontispiece) [French ed., "Seurat," Paris, 1991, pp. 20, 110, 268, 271, 300, 302, 308, 371, 389, 424, 442–43], discusses the relationship of various drawings to the painting; finds stylistic sources for Seurat’s circus-related pictures in contemporary circus illustrations and posters; calls the painted border a framing device akin to Wagner’s darkening the theater at Bayreuth, an effect that Symbolist critics related to fin-de-siècle interest in correspondences among the arts; discounts his previous idea (1980) of Seurat having used the golden section.
Philippe de Montebello and Jacques Sallois inGeorges Seurat, 1859–1891. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1991, p. vii [French ed., "Seurat," Paris, 1991, p. 11].
Françoise Cachin inGeorges Seurat, 1859–1891. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1991, pp. 275, 278, 423 [French ed., "Seurat," Paris, 1991, pp. 14, 313, 317], compares the frieze of heads at the bottom of the painting to the carefully positioned objects in the foreground of "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884" (1884/86, Art Institute of Chicago); finds similarities in the compositional structure of "Poseuses" (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia) and The Met's picture; states that Seurat used a "Poseuses" model for several spectators in the painting; erroneously states that it was for sale at Bernheim-Jeune only from 1908 to 1928.
Gary Tinterow inGeorges Seurat, 1859–1891. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. New York, 1991, pp. 303–16, no. 200, ill. (color, overall and details) [French ed., "Seurat," Paris, 1991, pp. 337, 344, 347–56, 358–60, 389, no. 198, ill. (color, overall and details)], discusses at length the nighttime setting and artificial lighting; notes that although Kahn (1928) suggested that Whistler’s “ten o’clock lecture” may have inspired the picture, Mallarme’s translation was not published until after the painting’s completion; discusses Seurat’s technique and the changes between the preparatory drawings and the final painting, suggesting that the border may have been a late addition; discusses the various influences on the painting; states that the clown was modeled on Watteau’s “Gilles” (now known as “Pierrot,” 1719, Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Deborah Menaker Rothschild. Picasso's "Parade" from Street to Stage: Ballet by Jean Cocteau, Score by Erik Satie, Choreography by Léonide Massine. Exh. cat., The Drawing Center, New York. London, 1991, p. 204, fig. 184, states that several of Picasso's sketches for the décor of Jean Cocteau's "Parade" (Musée Picasso, Paris) indicate that he entertained fretting the top of the proscenium with gas lamps in an allusion to The Met's picture; discusses Picasso's and Seurat's similar attitudes with regard to ennobling Parisian lower middle-classes.
Floyd Ratliff. Paul Signac and Color in Neo-Impressionism. New York, 1992, p. 186, notes the similarity between the stippled pen and ink drawing for this painting and the one done the same year by Signac for his painting "Le Petit Déjeuner," suggesting that the two artists were in very close communication at that time.
Ellen W[ardwell]. Lee. "Seurat Centenary." Art Journal 51 (Summer 1992), p. 105, ill.
Youssef Ishaghpour L'Échoppe. Seurat: La pureté de l'élément spectral. Caen, 1992, unpaginated.
Griselda Pollock. Avant-Garde Gambits, 1888–1893: Gender and the Color of Art History. New York, 1992, pp. 31, 34, 79, fig. 22.
Sarah Carr-Gomm. Seurat. London, 1993, pp. 34, 36–37, 110, 112–13, ill. (color).
Karal Ann Marling. "A Blessing on Your Head." New York Times (April 18, 1993), p. BR39.
A[braham]. M. Hammacher. Silhouette of Seurat. Exh. cat., Kröller-Müller Museum. Otterlo, 1994, pp. 18, 21, 34–35, 39–40, 43, 52, ill. (color).
Natasha Staller. "Babel: Hermetic Languages, Universal Languages, and Anti-Languages in Fin de Siècle Parisian Culture." Art Bulletin 76 (June 1994), pp. 331, 346, fig. 2 (detail).
Ségolène Le Men. Seurat & Cheret: Le peintre, le cirque, et l'affiche. Paris, 1994, pp. 16, 19, 21–28, 67, 73, 94, 117–18, 125, 135, 137, 146, 149, 178 n. 268, colorpl. 1.
John G. Hutton. Neo-Impressionism and the Search for Solid Ground: Art, Science, and Anarchism in Fin-de-Siècle France. Baton Rouge, 1994, pp. 192–99, fig. 45.
Marcus Verhagen. Re-figurations of Carnival; the Comic Performer in Fin-de-siècle Parisian Art. PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley. Ann Arbor, 1994, pp. 291–93, 301, 304–16, 318, 321, 328–29, 334, fig. VI:3, discusses the picture in the context of the history of sideshows and the Cirque Corvi specifically; reviews interpretations of the painting and concludes that it is a muted defense of popular culture; notes the differences between the scene as Seurat depicts it and as it appears in contemporary postcards; states that it presents the travelling circus as "the purveyor of a disciplined, non-hierarchical form of distraction . . . conforming to broadly the same principles as the artist's painterly style".
David Sweetman. Paul Gauguin: A Complete Life. London, 1995, p. 130, identifies the figure of the trombonist as Seurat himself.
Kirk Varnedoe. Studies in Modern Art. The Museum of Modern Art at Mid-Century: Continuity and Change. Ed. John Elderfield. Vol. 5, The Evolving Torpedo: Changing Ideas of the Collection of Painting and Sculpture of The Museum of Modern Art. New York, 1995, pp. 15, 28, 63 n. 5, p. 72 n. 118, ill.
Paul Smith inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 28, New York, 1996, pp. 502, 504.
Jane Block inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. Vol. 22, New York, 1996, pp. 745–46, ill.
John Leighton and Richard Thomson. Seurat and the Bathers. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 1997, pp. 147, 149, 153.
Paul Smith. Seurat and the Avant-Garde. New Haven, 1997, pp. 111, 123–24, 126, 130, 132, 136, 141–43, 145–46, 149, 159, color figs. 119, 134, 138, 169 (overall and details).
Albert Schug inPointillismus: Auf den Spuren von Georges Seurat. Exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne. Munich, 1997, p. 22 [French ed., "Pointillisme: Sur les traces de Seurat," Lausanne, 1998, p. 22].
Uwe Westfehling. Pointillismus: Auf den Spuren von Georges Seurat. Exh. cat., Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne. Munich, 1997, p. 228 [French ed., "Pointillisme: Sur les traces de Seurat," Lausanne, 1998, pp. 227–28].
Patricia Mainardi inCourbet: Artiste et promoteur de son oeuvre. Ed. Jörg Zutter and Petra ten-Doesschate Chu. Exh. cat., Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne. Paris, 1998, p. 104.
Eberhard Roters. Malerei des 19. Jahrhunderts: Themen und Motive. Cologne, 1998, vol. 1, pp. 382–83, ill.
Nancy Forgione. "'The Shadow Only': Shadow and Silhouette in Late Nineteenth-Century Paris." Art Bulletin 81 (September 1999), pp. 495, 497–99, 500, 502, 505, fig. 10.
Jonathan Crary. Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture. Cambridge, Mass., 1999, pp. 5–7, 149–57, 160–61, 163–64, 175–78, 181, 187–214, 217–18, 220, 223–25, 227–29, 236, 238–41, 243–44, 246, 255–58, 269, 273, 278, 280, 366, ill. (overall and details), discusses the picture at length, especially the central figure of the trombone player; links it to various scientific and sociological theories and also to Richard Wagner’s theatrical spectacles; discusses its mimicry of theatrical spaces as well as its antiscenographic character, comparing it to Leonardo’s “Last Supper”; notes the transactional dimension of the work and its emphasis on value (particularly with regard to the ticket seller’s window and the sign for the cost of admission); relates it to the earlier drawing “A Shop and Two Figures” (ca. 1882; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York).
Denis Pelli. "An Artist's Work Blurs Lines Between Art and Science." New York Times (August 10, 1999), p. A1, ill. (detail).
Peter Paquet. Helldunkel, Raum und Form: Georges Seurat als Zeichner. Frankfurt am Main, 2000, pp. 187–89, 196, 241, 380, 398, 402, 407, 412, 422, 425, 431, 438, 452.
Juliet Koss. "Review of Crary 1999." caa.reviews. March 28, 2000, unpaginated.
Chiao-Mei Liu. Cézanne: La série de Château Noir. PhD diss., Université de Paris. Villeneuve d'Ascq, 2001, p. 75, fig. 26.
Richard Thomson inVincent van Gogh and the Painters of the Petit Boulevard. Exh. cat., Saint Louis Art Museum. St. Louis, 2001, p. 92.
Roberta Smith. "A Crucial Link Between Two Styles of the Paris Avant-Garde." New York Times (October 12, 2001), p. E34.
Prof. Dr. Michel Draguet. Signac, Seurat: Le néo-impressionnisme. Paris, 2001, pp. 25, 36–38, 40, 71–73, ill. (color).
Robert L. Herbert. Seurat: Drawings and Paintings. New Haven, 2001, pp. vii, x, 14, 16, 107, 109, 137–38, 140–53, 156, colorpls. 121, 124 (overall and detail).
Howard G. Lay inMontmartre and the Making of Mass Culture. Ed. Gabriel P. Weisberg. New Brunswick, N.J., 2001, p. 175, mentions the painting as one of Seurat's last three large-format pictures in which he engaged the visual culture of the street by examining "promotional representations of modern life rather than modern life itself".
Laura Iamurri. "Gli appunti di viaggio di Lionello Venturi, 1932–1935." Storia dell'arte no. 101 (2002), pp. 96–98 n. 17.
John G. Hutton inGeorges Seurat et le néo-impressionnisme, 1885–1905. Exh. cat., Museum of Art, Kochi. Tokyo, 2002, pp. 237–38, 259, 270, 279 n. 3, p. 299, fig. 6 (color).
Daniel Wildenstein, Sylvie Crussard, and Martine Heudron. Gauguin, A Savage in the Making: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings (1873–1888). Milan, 2002, vol. 2, p. 609, state that it was completed in January 1888.
Jennifer Forrest. "Cocteau 'au cirque': The Poetics of 'Parade' and 'Le Numéro Barbette'." Studies in 20th Century Literature 27 (January 1, 2003), pp. 15–18, discusses its influence on Cubist painters, calling it an important precursor to Picasso's work on Jean Cocteau's ballet "Parade".
Robert L. Herbert et al. Seurat and the Making of "La Grande Jatte". Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 2004, pp. 132, 137, 143, 144, 149, 154, fig. 5 (color).
Neil Harris inSeurat and the Making of "La Grande Jatte". Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 2004, p. 259 n. 52.
Brendan Prendeville. "Seurat and the Act of Sensing: Perception as Artefact." Perception and the Senses/Sinneswahrnehmung. Ed. Therese Fischer-Seidel, Susanne Peters, and Alex Potts. Tübingen, 2004, pp. 167, 169–70, 172 [reprinted in Prendeville 2009].
Sylvie Patry inLe Néo-impressionnisme de Seurat à Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2005, p. 154.
Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon inLe Néo-impressionnisme de Seurat à Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2005, pp. 22, 180, 266.
Adèle Lespinasse inLe Néo-impressionnisme de Seurat à Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2005, p. 260.
Marianne Mathieu inLe Néo-impressionnisme de Seurat à Paul Klee. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2005, p. 262.
Sarah Lees inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, pp. 153, 315, 344, no. 378, fig. 125 (color).
Gilbert T. Vincent and Sarah Lees inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, pp. 150, 156, 188, 196 nn. 80, 81, 82, p. 198 n. 129, p. 199 n. 154, fig. 155 (color installation photograph of Stephen Clark's townhouse), discuss in detail the circumstances leading up to Stephen C. Clark's purchase of the painting in 1932.
Neil Harris inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, p. 201.
Daniel Cohen-McFall inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, figs. 248, 259 (installation photographs of Exhs. New York 1929 and 1961).
Richard R. Brettell and Stephen F. Eisenman. Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum. Ed. Sara Campbell. Vol. 1, New Haven, 2006, p. 432.
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, p. 11.
Robyn Roslak. Neo-Impressionism and Anarchism in Fin-de-Siècle France: Painting, Politics and Landscape. Aldershot, England, 2007, p. 86, fig. 3.11.
Richard Thomson in Jodi Hauptman. Georges Seurat: The Drawings. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2007, pp. 173, 175, fig. 2 (color), discusses the pivotal role of the preparatory drawings to the genesis of The Met's painting.
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 178–79, 303–5, no. 166, ill. (color and black and white).
Eric Alliez with the collaboration of Jean-Clet Martin. L'Œil-cerveau: nouvelles histoires de la peinture moderne. Paris, 2007, pp. 257, 261, 263–64 n. 2, pp. 282–85, 288–89 [English ed., "The Brain-Eye: New Histories of Modern Painting," London, 2016, pp. 206, 209, 221–26, 242 nn. 121, 127, p. 243, 244 n. 137, pp. 248–49 nn. 191, 192, 194, 196–200], suggests that it is among the most paradigmatic of his paintings with regard to the "photo-graphic" quality of the drawing technique, with a flat, gray, spectral effect where luminosity had been the goal; compares the central trombone player to a hangman, the musicians to prisoners in the dock, and the sad tone of the event to a public execution; states that it deconstructs the Wagnerian "scenic dispositif" and inverts high and low art.
Chris Stolwijk inVan Gogh and the Colours of the Night. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art. New York, 2008, pp. 35, 146 n. 64.
Caroline Elam. Roger Fry's Journey From the Primitives to the Post-Impressionists. Edinburgh, 2008, pp. 28, 30.
Albert Boime. Revelation of Modernism: Responses to Cultural Crises in Fin-de-Siècle Painting. Columbia, Mo., 2008, pp. 53–57, 59–62, 69, 79, 81–82 n. 58, pp. 83–84, 90–93, 100–101,colorpl. 3, notes that the picture has proved recalcitrant to interpretation; situates its pessimistic mood in the context of political disillusionment, particularly among Seurat's circle, in the wake of General Georges Boulanger's fall after the political "sideshow" of 1887–88; notes its contradictory, almost funereal, rendering of a moment of merriment; notes that the presence of overcoats indicate that Seurat depicts a fall or winter scene; states that it may mark the painter's shift from democratic politics to radical reformist movements; sees the sad representation of the performers as relating to the consequences for them, specifically, after Boulanger's fall; states Seurat's clown stands in for Boulanger; discusses Boulanger-related caricatures and popular songs to bolster his argument.
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, p. 242 n. 7.
Vincent van Gogh. Vincent van Gogh—The Letters. Ed. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker. London, 2009, vol. 5, p. 78, fig. 6 (color), under letter no. 799, state that Vincent and Theo would have seen the painting in Seurat's studio on February 19, 1888.
Seurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, colorpl. 5.
Paul Smith inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, p. 8.
Georges Roque inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, p. 49, states that it aimed at giving the impression of artificial light at the expense of local colors and that this treatment related to Seurat's emphasis on light as of greater importance than color.
Jonathan Crary inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, pp. 83–96, presents his 1999 argument in a condensed fashion.
John House inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, pp. 106–7, 112 n. 37, discusses the picture in relation to Seurat's theories laid out in his 1890 letter to Beaubourg and notes that the painting includes elements of both "calmness" and "gaiety," in Seurat's own terminology, but that the overall mood is more somber than calm and in line with traditional "parade" imagery.
Joan U. Halperin inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, pp. 115, 128–30, 138, 144 n. 66, notes a particular melancholy in the picture beyond its muted colors and that Seurat's musicians are less "abject" than those in either Jules Laforgue's prose or Fernand Pelez's painting of the same subject; states Seurat's painting expresses a quiet serenity that is undermined by the series of lamps, ambiguous forms, and the trombonist; calls attention to the repetition of bowler-hatted men in positions of both entertainer and entertainee as reflections of one another; states its ironic theme is "false fun".
Brendan Prendeville inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, pp. 150–52 [reprinted from Prendeville 2004].
Richard Shiff inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, pp. 168, 179, 192 n. 13.
Richard Hobbs inSeurat Re-viewed. Ed. Paul Smith. University Park, Pa., 2009, pp. 230, 234–36, 238, states the picture could be called "hyperbolic in the Mallarmean sense" and that the Wagnerist framework in which Smith 1997 places the work can be seen as Mallarmean; discusses the specific elements of the picture that relate to Stéphane Mallarmé's Symbolist ideas.
Wilhelm Genazino inGeorges Seurat: Figure in Space. Ed. Christoph Becker and Julia Burckhardt Bild. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. Ostfildern, 2009, p. 65, fig. 1 (color).
Gottfried Boehm inGeorges Seurat: Figure in Space. Ed. Christoph Becker and Julia Burckhardt Bild. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. Ostfildern, 2009, p. 88, fig. 7 (color).
Claire Maingon inA City for Impressionism: Monet, Pissarro, and Gauguin in Rouen. Ed. Laurent Salomé. Exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen. Paris, 2010, pp. 171–73, ill. (color), calls it "Circus Sideshow" and "Parade"; notes that Angrand posed for one of the figures in this painting.
Nancy Ireson. "The Pointillist and the Past: three English Views of Seurat." Burlington Magazine 152 (December 2010), p. 802.
Kerstin Thomas. Welt und Stimmung bei Puvis de Chavannes, Seurat und Gauguin. Berlin, 2010, pp. 128–29, 131, 136–40, 146–47, 149, 225 n. 414, p. 227 n. 472, ill. on cover (color detail), colorpl. X, discusses the painting's means of achieving a melancholy mood through color, a shallow depth of field, and a frieze-like arrangement of figures; states that the melancholy mood of the painting contrasts with the cheerfulness of the circus itself and that the mood is closely allied to the emotional subject of the abusive practices of child labor in the circus world, explored also in Fernand Pelez's painting and Jules Laforgue's poem "Soir de Carnaval" (the latter discussed in Herbert 1980); discusses Seurat's purposeful choice to depict such sites to evoke certain memories and feelings in his viewers, whether regarding leisure or boredom, sadness, or the cheerfulness of the event itself; notes the specificity of depicting the Corvi circus is part of the painter's means of affecting the viewer's perceptual process.
Juliet Bellow. Modernism on Stage: The Ballets Russes and the Parisian Avant-Garde. Farnham, England, 2013, pp. 114–16, 126 nn. 119, 120, discusses Picasso's appropriation of the motif of the spectators in The Met's picture in an ironic take on Seurat's pointillist style for the set of the ballet "Parade" (1917).
Michelle Foa. Georges Seurat: The Art of Vision. New Haven, 2015, pp. 4, 113–14, 116, 118–25, 129–35, 140, 148–49, 153, 157, 187, 190, 205 n. 6, p. 219 nn. 3, 5, p. 220 n. 8, p. 221 nn. 22, 24, fig. 76 (color), ill. p. 112 (color, detail), discusses it in detail in relation to studies for it, documentary images for the site, and Wagnerian influences on Seurat's choice to paint the frame darkly; focuses on the picture's "resolute" flatness; notes its self-referential quality and bisected composition; compares it to trompe l'oeil painting; discusses its ability to disorient and transfix the viewer.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, pp. 446–47, no. 392, ill. pp. 396, 446 (color).
Susan Alyson Stein inSeurat's Circus Sideshow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2017, pp. 107–11, 124–25, ill. p. 106 (color detail), figs. 111 (1929 exhibition installation photograph), 113 (color installation photograph in Clark home, ca. 1960), 114 (1961 exhibition installation photograph), tells the story of the picture's grand critical reception at the Museum of Modern Art's 1929 opening exhibition, its acquisition by Stephen C. Clark, and his bequest to The Met.
Charlotte Hale and Silvia A. Centeno inSeurat's Circus Sideshow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2017, pp. 112–16, 125–28, figs. 115 (color, with gridded diagram), 116 (MA-XRF, color detail), 117 (color detail and MA-XRF, color detail), discuss the results of a technical examination of the painting; confirm the presence of a grid in the underdrawing as well as a large signature remaining at the bottom right from an earlier state of the painting (both visible with macro-X-ray fluorescence imaging).
Richard Thomson. Seurat's Circus Sideshow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2017, pp. 15–105, 117–24, 130, 139–40, ill. front and back cover, title page, p. 14 (color details), fig. 1 (color), discusses the painting in great depth, including source imagery, preliminary studies, painting technique, related aesthetic theory, contemporary criticism, and contemporaneous artistic and literary explorations of circus sideshows.
Thomas P. Campbell inSeurat's Circus Sideshow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2017, p. 7.
Michelle Foa. "Degas: A New Vision and Seurat's Circus Sideshow." Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 16 (Autumn 2017), figs. 1, 8, 9, 12 (color, overall and installation photos) [http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/autumn17/foa-reviews-degas-a-new-vision-and-seurat-circus-sideshow].
In their catalogue raisonné, Dorra and Rewald (1959) list five studies associated with this painting: conté crayon drawings for the tree (DR180a), the trombone player (DR180b), and the clown and ringmaster (DR180c), an oil sketch of the overall composition (DR180), and an ink drawing of the overall composition (DR181a; but see Thomson 1985, who does not believe this drawing is by Seurat). De Hauke (1961) includes these same five studies (H667, 680, 669, 186, 681, respectively), as well as ten other drawings less closely related to the final picture.
This painting was listed in an inventory of Seurat's studio of May 3, 1891, shortly after his death (see Seyrès 1991), along with four drawings and three sketches or "croquetons" for it.
The painting is known to represent the spectacle used to advertise the Cirque Corvi, a miniature animal circus, which was set up in 1887 at the Foire aux pains d'épice in the Place de la Nation in Paris.