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Arts by Gustave Caillebotte and Georges Seurat: Compare and Contrast

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The historically similar works of art by artists Gustave Caillebotte and Georges Seurat are both distinctively similar and dissimilar in numerous aspects, as well as their themes. As you begin to observe, the two images depicted above, share many similar visual aspects such as time, motion, and lines, but vary when it comes to light, color, and space. Each of the artistically unique artists incorporated several contrasting design principles like balance, rhythm, and unity, however, when looking at their similarities both paintings share variety and subordination. Although this piece may illustrate many similarities and differences, when it comes to looking at each piece’s historical time period both are indistinguishable. A Sunday Afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte and Paris Street; Rainy Day occur during the late nineteenth century, also known as the Post-Impressionism and Impressionism period. These two extremely similar and dissimilar pieces of art have kindred principles and visual elements like color, while also contrasting elements like balance, Suerats and Caillebotts pieces also have the same underlying theme which appears to be politics and social order, while its main contrast appears to be style.

The subject matter that appears in both pieces appears to be visually the same, they both create the traditional, classic day in the life of a person living during the 1800s, which illustrates a casual walk throughout the day, or a nice sunny day at the park. Form within both of the historically similar paintings has many similarities and differences that are easily recognizable, for instance, both paintings provide a variety of sizes; like enlarged, small, medium, as well as different shapes; like irregular or geometric. However, each piece incorporates a different intensified color palettes and hues. The form in both of the paintings includes similar materials such as oil, which creates a similar Post-Impressionism effect. The subject matter and form in both of these paintings allude to literal and physical appearances, which allow the viewers to establish and understand the physical and literality of the painting, before the implied meaning and theme.

When comparing both of these paintings it is effortless and easy to identify that Gustave Caillebotte and Georges Seurat both used oil on canvas as their primary technique. The widely used technique can create thinner paint which can either dry slower or faster and is considered more advantageous than other painting techniques because of its numerous applicable aspects. Together both paintings were created during the same time period, the 1800s, which was referred to ad the Victorian Era when referencing the numerous historical era throughout history. As you reference the content or the connotation of each of these paintings, one may notice that they widely differ. The content or underlying meaning conveyed in a Paris Street; Rainy Day may symbolize the hardships and obstacles that some Parisians faced during the Victorian era, while the content within A Sunday on La Grande Jatte may signify the calm before the storm or the contentment and bliss before another obstacle appeared.

When identifying each pieces uniquely similar visual elements, one may notice the similarity in time, motion, and the implementation of lines. In comparison, the utilization of time and motion in both paintings exhibits and illustrates the specific time period and common aspects of fashion during the 1800’s. The institution of time within each piece allows the audience to establish and comprehend the typical usual day that people experienced in the nineteenth century. The motion in both pieces adds distinct clues a normal day in the 1800’s such as the evening stroll in Paris Street; Rainy Day or the casual day at the park that can be observed in A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Similarly, both artists also included the artistical use of lines in each painting, which can be identified or seen on both the umbrellas in each painting. The implementation of lines within both of the paintings establishes the implied height of each of the umbrellas, while also the thinness of the lines illustrates the unsubstantial strength of the weak line. The use of lines, motion and time within both pieces allows us to comprehend small increments of details that further explain the artistically similar paintings.

Although these two distinctively similar pieces have many similarities when it comes to visual elements they also have many contrasting elements. As you compare each of these pieces you may notice the differentiation when it comes to light, color, and space. When comparing Paris Street; Rainy Day and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte it clearly emphasizes the differences in use of color and light, as you may notice that Seurat’s painting incorporates a larger scale of lively cool-toned colors, with small increments of warm-toned, as well as complementary colors like green and red, or blue and orange. The 1886 painting includes the painting technique pointillism, as it adds small dots that are blended at a distance, as well as a higher intensified restricted palette. While Caillebotte’s paintings incorporate several neutral colors such as black, white, and brown with small fragments of dull complementary hues. Caillebotte’s painting also includes tints of a dulled yellow or beige throughout the buildings, as well as a tint of brown throughout the bricked road. The differential usage of light in both pieces is easily distinguishable, as you may notice that Caillebotte uses chiaroscuro to model the different values on the Parisians’ faces and umbrellas, which is unlike Seurat who uses a larger value scale to cast shadows over the grass and faces of the people sitting on the lawn. When referencing both painting’s use of space, Seurat’s implement of space implies a larger surface and distance throughout the piece, while Caillebotte’s placement of the buildings and citizens implies a smaller scale of space, as the larger scaled buildings implicit that the streets are smaller scaled.

As you observe each painting one may notice several contrasting design principles like balance, unity, and rhythm. When examining both paintings you may notice the difference in balance between each piece, where Caillebotte’s painting displays asymmetrical balances as the two larger enlarged citizens appear on the right side, while on the left there are numerous smaller-scaled citizens, which resultingly balance each other out. However, when observing Seurat’s painting darker side establishes balance rather than larger scaled objects. Another contrasting principle would also be rhythm within the paintings which can be seen in a Paris Street; Rainy Day where the bricked road alludes to rhythm, which illustrates the repetition of the bricked pattern with contrasting elements like value. Whereas Seurat’s astonishingly detailed painting implement of optical blending creates a sense of rhythm. In addition, another very distinguishable contrasting design principle would be unity, which can be identified and observed with the unification of the varying sizes of buildings and citizens within Caillebotte’s painting, whereas Seurat’s painting establishes unity by the varied geometric and irregular shapes.

When comparing the similar design principle in each piece, you may observe a couple of related components like variety and subordination. When looking at the implementation of variety, both pieces illustrate its usage exquisitely and exceptionally. The viewers or spectators may be able to identify variety within a Paris Street; Rainy Day and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte as you notice the differentiated sizes of the people, sizes of the umbrellas, and the diverse clothing portrayed in each painting. Another key component is the implementation of subordination within each piece, which can be seen and identified as all of the background people, which adds visual emphasis to the two enlarged, mysteriously dressed couple carrying an umbrella in both paintings. The inclusion and implementation of variety and subordination within both pieces add key aspects that add dismissable amounts of detail.

The style of both Caillebotte’s and Seurat’s pieces vary dramatically. Caillebotte relies on glum, unjoyful appeal when incorporating dull, unintensified hues, with small salient complementary details. Whereas Seurat’s style incorporates and adds intensified complementary colors, and relies on the implementation of pointillism. Seurat creates and produces art solely based on abstract figures, with the inclusion of scenic sites, while Caillebotte’s style usually encompassed the industrial enterprise of Paris. Together these two widely idealized artists idealized the growth and development between the 1800s, whether it was the everchanging scenic scenes or the growing industrialization within Paris, and throughout the modern world.

The underlying theme of these dramatically unique paintings establishes a thesis based on politics and social order within the nineteenth century. The sole basis of this social order theme establishes and condemns power to two important individuals within the paintings. As you analyze both of these paintings the viewers and spectators may notice the prominent, dark-clothed couple that is displayed on the right-hand side of both of the paintings, both of whom look to be stern, important members of society. The exclusion of the characters highlights their leading presence in both of the paintings. In similarity, I believe that both of these pieces try to influence public thought, whereas Paris Street; Rainy Day, and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte establish important societal questions as to why these figures are prominent? Are they important for morally ethical or unethical reasons? Do we as people of modern society have a prominent member as well, if so who are they? The main intention of this theme is to establish a basic understanding while increasing social awareness of the eminent politicians, actresses or actors, singers, and artists of our generation and previous generations so that we can fully understand and comprehend their roles within society. The leading, notable dark clothed figures, which are enlarged within the paintings draw the line between hierarchy and the middle class. Personally, I believe that both of these artists intended to create pieces to compare important distinguishable figures to normal, everyday members of society. Together the post-impressionism and impressionist artists, Seurat and Caillebotte, created and preserved pieces, perceived to be ahead of their time, to capture and illustrate the exclusive theme of politics and social order within the nineteenth century.  

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Arts by Gustave Caillebotte and Georges Seurat: Compare and Contrast. (2023, February 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 26, 2023, from
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