Georges Seurat
Port-en-Bessin at High Tide

Harbour at Port-en-Bessin at High Tide
Georges Seurat (1859-1891)
Harbour at Port-en-Bessin at High Tide
1888
Oil on canvas
H. 67; W. 82 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / DR

Port-en-Bessin, avant-port , marée haute [Harbour at Port-en-Bessin at High Tide]


In the summer, Seurat usually went to the coast to paint landscapes. He claimed he "washed his eye clean from the days spent in the studio and caught the bright light more accurately" as the poet Emile Verhaeren reported.

This view of the harbour of Port-en-Bessin, a little fishing village on the Normandy coast, is striking for its subtle, sparkling light. The overall composition, both geometrical and asymmetrical, plays alternately on the slanting lines of the cliffs and the flat lines of the jetties and the horizon, punctuated in turn by the upright masts. The road winding up from Port-en-Bessin to the edge of the cliffs softens the strict construction, a frequent device in Seurat's work. The wild grasses in the foreground introduce an untidy note in this motionless landscape. The port emptied of all human presence leaves an abandoned, melancholic impression.




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