The show is structured around the Neo-impressionist movement's emblematic figure, Georges Seurat, for whom drawing was so central that it might be considered as his primary mode of expression. Seurat began drawing as early as 1874, and continued to attach great importance to it throughout his life. It was with a drawing that he first entered the Salon in 1883.
His first drawings, in both technique and subject, are typical of the art student of his day. However, the young Seurat soon decided to break free from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts' academic constraints, a rupture which he cemented on his return from military service in 1880. It was at this time that he made his first monochrome drawing, a technique which would enable him to work out his theory of contrasts, particularly through the use of chiaroscuro. He drew exclusively with Conté crayon on course grained surfaces, his favourite being Michallet paper. The medium's flexibility made it ideal for working out his experiments with light.