george seurat a sunday on la grande jatte meaning
NOTE: Seurat’s 19th century colour palette comprised the usual colour pigments of the time, including vermilion, cobalt blue and emerald green. He also used the then-new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), mainly for yellow highlights in the sunlit grass, but additionally in combination with blue and orange hues. Unfortunately, the zinc yellow has gradually darkened to a brownish colour, a process detectable even in Seurat’s lifetime.
Explanation of Other Modern French Paintings
The painting was first exhibited at the eighth (and last) Impressionist exhibition in May 1886, then in August 1886, dominating the second Salon of the Société des Artistes Indépendants, of which Seurat had been a founder in 1884.  Seurat was extremely disciplined, always serious, and private to the point of secretiveness—for the most part, steering his own steady course. As a painter, he wanted to make a difference in the history of art and with La Grand Jatte, succeeded. 
Seurat painted A Sunday Afternoon between May 1884 and March 1885, and from October 1885 to May 1886,  focusing meticulously on the landscape of the park. He reworked the original and completed numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches. He sat in the park, creating numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form. He concentrated on issues of colour, light, and form. The painting is approximately 2 by 3 meters (7 by 10 feet) in size.
Paul Signac, “The Pine Tree at Saint-Tropez,” 1909 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)
“Confronting his subject,” Signac explained, “Seurat, before touching his little panel with paint, scrutinizes, compares, looks with half shut eyes at the play of light and shadow, observes contrasts, isolates reflections, plays for a long time with the cover of the box which serves as his palette, then . . . he slices from his little heap of colors arranged in the order of the spectrum the various colored elements which form the tint destined best to convey the mystery he has glimpsed. Execution follows on observation, stroke by stroke the panel is covered.”
In this large painting, Seurat depicted people relaxing in a suburban park on an island in the Seine River called La Grande Jatte. It may be just an ordinary day with ordinary people. The cast comprised three dogs, eight boats and 48 people as they congregated for a Sunday afternoon in the sunny park. But, the titular locale was a favorite of prostitutes on the prowl, so some historians suspect that fish are not what the fishing-pole-toting woman on the left was hoping to hook. The same speculation has arisen around the lady on the right, with a monkey on a leash and a man on her arm.
Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,1884, Art Institute of Chicago
What makes this painting even more unique and mysterious is that the theme of the work is not some profound emotion or momentous event, but the banalest of workaday scenes.
At first glance, the viewer sees many different people relaxing in a park by the river and nothing appears out of the ordinary. On the right, a fashionable couple is on a stroll. On the left, another well-dressed woman extends her fishing pole over the water. There is a small man with a black hat looking at the river, a white dog with a brown head, a man playing a horn, two soldiers standing at attention, a couple admiring their infant child, etc.