sunday afternoon on the island of la grand jatte (1884)
After completing the painting in 1886, Seurat opted to exhibit it in the eighth and final Impressionist exhibition. While it was met with mixed reviews, it remained the artist’s most well-known work of art until (and after) his untimely death in 1891.
Paul Signac, “The Pine Tree at Saint-Tropez,” 1909 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)
The painting depicts fashionable Parisians enjoying a Sunday afternoon at a popular beauty spot located on the River Seine between Neuilly and Levallois-Perret. While his earlier Bathers at Asnieres depicted the working class left-bank of the river, this work shows the bourgeois right-bank at La Grande Jatte. Thus, for instance, in contrast to the unremitting heat of Asnieres, La Grande Jatte has plenty of cool shade in which to escape the sun.
Explanation of Other Modern French Paintings
The border of the painting is, unusually, in inverted color, as if the world around them is also slowly inverting from the way of life they have known. Seen in this context, the boy who bathes on the other side of the river bank at Asnières appears to be calling out to them, as if to say, “We are the future. Come and join us”. 
Seurat painted the La Grande Jatte in three distinct stages.  In the first stage, which was started in 1884, Seurat mixed his paints from several individual pigments and was still using dull earth pigments such as ochre or burnt sienna. In the second stage, during 1885 and 1886, Seurat dispensed with the earth pigments and also limited the number of individual pigments in his paints. This change in Seurat’s palette was due to his application of the advanced color theories of his time. His intention was to paint small dots or strokes of pure color that would then mix on the retina of the beholder to achieve the desired color impression instead of the usual practice of mixing individual pigments.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is both the best-known and largest painting Georges Seurat ever created on a canvas. It depicts people relaxing in a suburban park on an island in the Seine River called La Grande Jatte, a popular retreat for the middle and upper class of Paris in the 19th century.
La Grande Jatte, toward Clichy, 2006, via wikipedia.org
The Art Institute of Chicago, The Art of the Edge: European Frames 1300-1900, October 17–December 14, 1986, not included in the catalogue.
Brussels, Musée de l’Art Modern, IVe exposition annuelle de XX, February, 1887, cat. 1.