Lot 344
  • 344

Georges Seurat

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Georges Seurat
  • La Zone (fillette dans la neige, la gréve)
  • Conté crayon on paper
  • 31.5 by 24.2cm., 12 3/8 by 9 1/2 in.


Léon Appert
Knoedler & Co., Paris
Gérard Frères
Gustave Goubaux
Félix Fénéon, Paris (sale: 2e vente, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 30, 1947, lot 40)
Alex Loeb
Max Kaganovitch, Paris
Nehama Jaglom, New York (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, New York (by descent from the above; sale: Sotheby's, New York, 3rd May 2005, lot 48)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Paris, Galerie Georges Aubry, Aquarelles, pastels et dessins des Maitres du XIXe siècle, 1931, no. 75 (titled La Grève)
Paris, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Georges Seurat, 1936, no. 102
London, Galerie Wildenstein, Seurat and his Contemporaries, 1937, no. 67
Zürich, Galerie Aktuaryus, Le Néo-Impressionnisme, 1937, no. 13
London, Galerie Leicester, Artists who died young, 1938, no. 31
Paris, Musée national d'Art moderne, Le dessins de Toulouse-Lautrec aux Cubistes, 1954, no. 191
Paris, Galerie Max Kaganovitch, Les 30 ans de la galerie: Dessins, aquarelles, tableaux, sculptures des XIXe et XXe siècles, 1966
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Georges Seurat, The Drawings, 2007-08, no. 62, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Gotthard Jedlicka, 'Die Zeichnungen Seurats', Galerie und Sammler, Zürich, October-November 1937, illustrated p. 149
George Seligman, The Drawings of Georges Seurat, New York, 1947, no. 32, pp. 23 & 68
C.M. de Hauke, Seurat et son œuvre, vol. II, Paris, 1961,  no. 521, illustrated p. 115


Executed on cream laid paper, not laid down, hinged to the mount in three places along the upper edge and floating in the mount. All four edges are deckled. There are lines of brown paper tape along the edges of the verso and there are two small areas along the left edge where the sheet is slightly undulating. This work is in very good original condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

La Zone (fillette dans la neige, la gréve) is an early example of Georges Seurat’s inimitable style, drawn in 1882-83 when the artist was just in his early twenties. Landscape was the predominant genre in Seurat’s works of the early 1880s, and he often made trips to villages outside Paris as well as to the suburbs in search of endless inspiration and subjects to depict.  Seurat’s early oils and drawings were influenced by Corot, and several of the places that he visited were associated with the older artist, including Mortefontaine, Ville d’Avray and Barbizon. Influenced thus in part by Corot and the celebrated rural subject-matter of the time, Seurat often depicted scenes of everyday life evoking the manner of Van Gogh and populating his landscapes with figures such as farmers, mowers or stone breakers working in the fields. In the present composition, however, Seurat turns to the dichotomy of landscape and city; the intermediate area between prosperity of land and labour and the bustling technology and economy; a contrast further heightened by the devastating contemporary crash of the Paris Bourse in 1882.

Seurat in La Zone (fillette dans la neige, la gréve) chooses to depict a solitary young girl in the outskirts of the city under the snow in winter, in La Zone, the area immediately surrounding Paris’ fortifications including the suburbs of Courbevoie, Asnières and Saint-Denis. The figure turns her back to the viewer, walking into the scene delineated by a pathway of light and darkness echoing the whiteness of snow. The muffled elements surrounding the young girl are indiscernible, and the viewer is actively engaged in deciphering the landscape and the space inhabited by the figure. Echoing some of Seurat’s female figures depicted around those years, the young child is captured between a moment of time unfolding, between stagnant immobility and possible movement, capturing a moment of suspense and anticipation in the present work.

Masterfully building a sense of space and depth Seurat juxtaposes his modulation of light and darkness through the use of his preferred Conté crayon. During those years, and as Robert Herbert has observed: ‘By 1882, Seurat had created his unique style of drawing in which individual lines have disappeared in favour of large shadowy masses. He moulded his velvety forms by delicately rubbing the rough textured paper with a greasy conté crayon, and by using the end of the crayon to form an even more dense scumble of lines which finally merged into greys and blacks’ (R. Herbert, Seurat: Paintings and Drawings (exhibition catalogue), The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1958). The unique combination of Conté crayon and thick Michallet paper lend this work particular gravitas, a complete chiaroscuro landscape. Seurat varies his application of medium onto the thick and sturdy laid paper, conveying surface movement and perceptive richness to the scene. On the specific subject matter of the present work and Seurat’s use of medium, Jodi Hauptman describes that ‘in looking at Seurat’s drawings, it is clear that Signac and Fénéon’s experiences of these places [desolate scenes] and their representations are a crucial clue to understanding Seruat’s efforts. Seurat’s drawings do something to our eyes [sic]. The atmosphere that the artist creates is, like miasma itself, a corrupting force that interferes with vision. Seurat’s melding of conté and Michallet at its resultant vapor, the Zone and its inhabitants, the murky conditions of the banlieue, the flux and change that is modernity itself – their correspondence comes in offering, Bridget Riley so beautifully articulates ‘an experience just beyond our visual grasp’ (‘Medium and Miasma: Seurat’s drawings on the margins of Paris’ in Georges Seurat, The Drawings (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007-08, p.117). A master draughtsman of the nineteenth century influencing a wide range of artists to the present day, Seurat created works on paper of perceptible beauty, elegance, tranquility and supreme modernity, a monochromatic virtuoso of technique and poignant feeling of which the present work is an iconic example.