Lot 116
  • 116

GEORGES SEURAT | La Femme au panier

800,000 - 1,200,000 EUR
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  • Georges Seurat
  • La Femme au panier
  • Conté crayon on paper
  • 32,1 x 24,2 cm; 12 5/8 x 9 1/2 in.
Executed circa 1880-82.


Félix Fénéon, Paris (his sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Collection Félix Fénéon, December 4, 1941, lot 15)
Georges Renand, Paris (his sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, November 20, 1987, lot 36)
Edouard & Jeannine Chapet, Paris (acquired at the above sale)


Paris, Galerie Devambez, 20 dessins de Seurat, 1922, no. 5
New York, Joseph Brummer Galleries, Paintings and drawings by Georges Seurat, 1924, no. 21 
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Les dessins de Seurat, 1926, no. 90
Moscow, Académie des Sciences de l'Art,  L'Art Français Contemporain, 1928, no. 99
Paris, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Seurat 1859-1891, 1936, no. 79
Paris, Galerie Bolette Natanson, Exposition des Peintres de la Revue Blanche, 1936, no. 43
Paris, Galerie de France, Les Néo-Impressionnistes, 1942–43, no. 14
Geneva, Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, De Watteau à Cézanne, 1951, no. 199 (titled Femme portant un panier)
Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle; Bielefeld, Kunsthalle, Georges Seurat Zeigchnungen, 1983-84, no. 19, illustrated in the catalogue np
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Georges Seurat: The Drawings, 2007-08 , no. 23, illustrated in the catalogue p. 62


Henry Ernest Schnakenberg, New York Exhibition – Seurat, New York, 1924, illustrated
Gustave Kahn, Les Dessins de Georges Seurat, Paris, 1928, illustrated pl. 74
César M. de Hauke, Seurat et son oeuvre, vol. II, Paris, 1961, no. 464, illustrated p. 79
"Seurat par ses dessins", in Connaissance des Arts, no. 391, September 1984, illustrated p. 39


Please contact the Impressionist and Modern Art Department for the condition report for this lot.
"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

One of the most influential and most mysterious artists of the 20th century, a figurehead of the Neo-impressionism movement, Georges Seurat is also recognized as an extraordinary draughtsman. His Conté pencil drawings in which he develops all the ambiguous gradations of light and shade, are landmarks in the development of modern art.

Born in Paris in 1859 to a middle-class family, he became interested in drawing early on and at the age of 17 enrolled in the School of Fine Arts where he followed classes in the studio of the painter Henri Lehmann. A multitude of very accomplished drawings exist from this period, sketched from antiquity and from the live model, as well as copies of the old masters. But the young man quickly moved away from the academic path.

It was during his military service in Brest from 1879 to 1880 that the artist drew in his sketchbooks objects from his everyday life such as soldiers or people glimpsed in the street. He thus perfected his technique, moving away from the straight line, choosing to define contour with segments of broken line. It was also during his military service that the artist deepened his interest in the scientific theories of perception. He read the article "The phenomenon of vision" by David Sutter published in the revue L’Art in 1880 and had already studied the "Grammar of the art of drawing" by Charles Blanc and "The Laws of Colour Contrast" by the chemist Eugène Chevreul. Back in Paris in November 1880 his readings intensified with the "Scientific Theories of Colour" by Ogden Rood. He also studied closely the work of Delacroix and began to paint assiduously in order to elaborate a new aesthetic. His drawings developed very quickly. Line now became an element in itself, modulated by the rendering of light across the surface, rather than functioning as a descriptive outline. Seurat was also innovative in his use of paper texture. He thus created a grid effect by rubbing his thick Conté pencil across the rough and irregular surface of the paper, allowing for areas of white to show through. But above all, the black and white contrasts meant he was able to model form entirely, endowing his anonymous figures with a universal quality.

La femme au panier announces Seurat’s period of maturity and is part of the recurring theme of solitary figures often seen from the back. This very accomplished drawing relates to another drawing, Casseur de pierres, le Raincy kept in the collection of the MOMA in New York.The same woman is positioned in the centre of the composition. Various studies undertaken at the time of the important exhibition on Seurat’s drawings at the MOMA in 2007 reveal that Casseur de pierre, le Raincy contains needle pricks made by the artist, as aids for his composition, particularly around the woman and the two men. As the Seurat specialist Robert Herbert suggests, La Femme au panier and Casseur de pierres, le Raincy, may have been part of a project for a painting that was never completed or was lost. With La femme au panier we are in the presence of a popular feminine figure such as the painter could have observed at Raincy, a small middle class and working town to the North-East of Paris where his father owned a house and where Seurat often went on Sundays to lunch with him. This drawing expresses not only Seurat’s inimitable style but also his interest in contemporary life in the vicinity of Paris which marked his masterpieces such as La Baignade à Asnières and La Grande Jatte.

One of Seurat’s greatest supporters and fervent defenders of Neo-impressionism, the famous art critic, journalist and collector Félix Fénéon, may have been of anarchist sensibility. A close friend of the artist, it is not surprising to find that this work figured among the 15 drawings and 9 paintings by Seurat in his collection. It was moreover Fénéon along with Paul Signac, Seurat’s first disciple, and of Maximilien Luce who established an inventory after the painter’s death aged 31 and who later contributed to the catalogue raisonné with César de Hauke.