georges seurat a sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte analysis
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
The meticulous care, smooth lines, and realistic colors of this painting, and the Neo-impression style were not well-received at the time. It was criticized as too mechanical, in contrast to the spontaneity and rough brush strokes of the impressionist movement that dominated the art world at the time.
The essential meaning of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is far from clear. However art critics believe that it should be interpreted in comparison to its sister work Bathers at Asnieres. They believe that ‘La Jatte’ represents the French bourgeoisie, a decaying class that has fallen victim to lust and vice, and which is now in the shadows. In contrast, the sun is shining on the working class bathers of Asnieres, who represent the bright future of France.
For an interpretation of other pictures from the 19th and 20th centuries, see: Analysis of Modern Paintings (1800-2000).
The results of investigation into the discoloration of this painting have been combined with further research into natural aging of paints to digitally rejuvenate the painting.  
In 1923, Frederic Bartlett was appointed trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago. He and his second wife, Helen Birch Bartlett, loaned their collection of French Post-Impressionist and Modernist art to the museum. It was Mrs. Bartlett who had an interest in French and avant-garde artists and influenced her husband’s collecting tastes. Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was purchased on the advice of the Art Institute of Chicago’s curatorial staff in 1924. 
It is the most famous example of use of highly systematic and “scientific” technique, subsequently called Pointillism. It relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color spots into a fuller range of tones. Seurat himself preferred to call his technique “chromo-luminarism,” a term he felt better stressed its focus on color and light.
Georges Seurat, Sunday at La Grand Jatte, 1884, Art Institute of Chicago, detail
Individuals never did interest Seurat, only their formal elegance and the way they contributed to the overall perfect balance of the composition. As a result, this high class get-away for the Parisian community appears to be terrifyingly still – although we assume children would be running around and that dogs would be barking, the impression we receive is of silence, of control, of no disorder whatsoever. Even those who came to this mile-long island in pairs seem alone in their concise form.
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.