Monday, May 7, 2007

Seurat Mystery

I am truly stumped - thinking someone out there knows the answer to what this object is in Seurat's painting "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte". I won't sleep until I know.

20 comments:

Jo Castillo said...

Karen, I think it is a woman in a gray cape with a white bonnet with brown trim and ribbon down the back. Hmmmm.
Jo

Karin Jurick said...

Ahh...... so it's the back of a woman? I can almost see that - the part that throws me off is the color of the tree trunk being so much of the same color as the shape. I swear it looks like a big rock to me, but I think you may be right.

David Bogart said...

wow no offense jo but i dont know about that one. you may be right, but that thing looks like some sort of object in front of or on a rock.

ive wasted about 30 min online and couldnt find anything......thanks karin now its driving me nuts too. :)

Mark Davis said...

Karen, I believe that Jo Castillo is correct. If you look at the sketch Seurat did for the painting the figure is less stylized.

David Bogart said...

less stylized then a woman who looks like a rock? ;) sorry, couldn't resist.

Mike said...

Yup! I think so, too, Karin. On my last visit to the Institute I recall looking carefully at that and wondering similarly. The tip off is the man to the immediate right and the direction he is looking. At her face! What else?

Enjoying your work, blog and site so much that I have linked to you. Your work is wonderful!

Mike

David Bogart said...

mike your probably right. however,
if you were to just plain ask me what that man ("the tip off") is looking at i would have to say the water.

im looking at him and seeing a full profile view. if he was looking to his left (aka-at us) wouldnt you see more of his face?

maybe he has excellent peripheral vision.....:)

anyway i dont see what else it could be, you guys are probably right. wish we had the option of asking the artist.....

sandra flood said...

If you look this painting up on wiki ,there are a number of studies that Seurat did for this painting and others at that same spot.
It is certainly not a rock. He never painted any rocks there in his other pieces.
It could be a women, but I have to say it is a pretty poor job of painting a women from behind. I am not a fan of his work so maybe I am a bit harsh.

Mark Oberndorf said...

Hi Karin,
The small studies he did leading up to this piece show that it is in fact the back of a woman.

One other interesting fact about this painting....the figure in the immediate left hand foreground who is reclining on the grass is Gustave Caillebotte.

Keep up the great work!!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Okay, bear with me here, because I'm no expert on period living . . . but could it be a gazing ball? Some sort of garden folly? It looks an awful lot like it has a base to it.

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Okay, I changed my mind. I'm gonna go with white circle being the top of a woman's hat, the line being a ribbon or something coming down the back. I'm think I'm with Jo on this one. And heck, she's a smart woman anyway. :D

Karin Jurick said...

okay...... i always thought that questionable shape was something like 'garden folly'. they do say seurat had a sense of humor. he'd certainly get a kick out of all of us scratching our heads and discussing this on the internet. now..... as i look at the studies, etc, i can go with it being the back of a woman - pretty vague, but i do think that's the answer. the good thing is i'll be standing in front of the real painting in a couple of days - surely it'll be more obvious. i promise to report back. :)

Karen Appleton said...

Karin, I hope you are going to be in the city in time to see the current exhibit at the Art Institute..."Cezanne to Picasso". It ends May 12th. It is a fabulous exhibit and I would love to see some of these painting make it into your paintings!
Karen

Regula Scheifele said...

Karen - I guess it's been agreed upon that the shape is indeed the back of a woman. I seems to be a nursemaid, the 'man' looking at here seems to be an old lady!
I found a list of the motives within the painting as dictated and revised by the artist himself:
"... Under the trees closer to us many people are strolling, others are sitting or stretched out lazily on the bluish grass. A few are fishing. There are young ladies, a nursemaid, a Dantesque old grandmother under a parasol, a sprawled-out boatman smoking his pipe, the lower part of his trousers completely devoured by the implacable sunlight. A dark-colored dog of no particular breed is sniffing around, a rust-colored butterfly hovers in mid-air, a young mother is strolling with her little girl dressed in white with a salmon-colored sash, ...".
Here's the link: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/seurat/grande-jatte/
Looking forward to your report on the original!

Meg said...

Karen -
I think I have figured out this mystery. The small alien creature is perhaps - Ta Da! - A small PERISCOPE painted too close in front of a ROCK!..... And, I imagine that this rust-colored periscope can adjust up and down, and rotate around for the all important activity of people and sailboat-watching. I think the little white circle is the glass viewfinder. The little kiddies can lean upon the rock to peer through the glass to see that sparkly world magnified. By the way, You've painted a wonderful painting, as usual. Now, go to sleep.

Jo Castillo said...

Isn't this going to be fun to solve the mystery? Thanks Karin.

This 'smart' (according to Maggie) lady has been misspelling your name. Sorry. :( I am Karen Jo and just read it to be like my Karen. Duh..

Later,
Jo

Karin Jurick said...

I'm reporting back from my recent visit to Chicago - I can say, with all certainty, that the shape in question is a she. Oddly painted, but it's the back of a woman - a nursemaid, as described by the artist himself. Thanks to all of you who pondered the mystery - your suggestions and observations are wonderful.

TK Temple said...

Oh, I was so pulling for it being a gazing ball, I love those things! Thanks for sharing and then
identifying the "mystery", I will never see this painting the same way again! I will see in that spot a lady, a periscope, and a gazing ball.. :D
All best wishes,
TK

Scodi said...

If you look at the running child to the left of the couple in the foreground, she has a hat with a scarf wrapped around the brim which hangs down the back. Perhaps the sitting woman in question is also wearing this style of hat...

Scodi said...

New mystery regarding same picture.
The woman with the umbrella in the foreground....why would any woman wear a bustle like that in order to make their butt look that big?