Georges Seurat
(Paris, 1859-1891, Paris)
Study for "Invitation to the Sideshow", 1887
Oil on panel, 16.5 x 26 cm
Studio stamp lower right
Dorra/Rewald 180; Hauke 186
Seurat had not yet completed his third composition with a female model in three different poses ("Les poseuses"), when he set to work at the end of 1887 on a new picture, this time half as large, with which he grapples again with quite new problems: "The Parade". A circus manager and a clown along with a trombone player and four other musicians are trying to drum up trade for their circus. For this picture, which busies Seurat for about six months, there exists only a "croqueton", which is the oil sketch in the Bührle Collection. Gaslight outdoors is the new light problem, while static repose, based on parallel verticals – with the trombone players as central axis – and horizontals, determines the composition and gives the picture a hieratic relief-like quality. The sketch uses the light problem to approach the thematic content. The painting is done with relatively large, loosely applied patches of colour, which everywhere let the natural reddish tone of the wood shine through; in this way a world of appearances emerges, before which the human figures loom like schematic silhouettes.