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Port-en-Bessin: The Outer Harbor (Low Tide)

Georges Pierre Seurat, French, 1859–1891
Oil on canvas
Made in
Port-en-Bessin-Huppain, Basse-Normandie, France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 218
21 3/8 x 26 1/4 in. (54.3 x 66.7 cm)
framed: 27 3/4 x 32 5/16 x 2 3/4 in. (70.5 x 82.1 x 7 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
Georges Seurat produced this painting while spending the summer at the Normandy resort of Port-en-Bessin. He captures the port with details such as a sail in the foreground and flagpoles in the distance. The work displays Seurat’s signature “pointillist” touch, or the practice of applying small dots of color to the canvas which blend together at a distance. A strong geometrical structure provides a sense of calm and order, reflecting the artist’s aim to make the ephemeral moment suggest the eternal.
1889 - still in 1892
G. de la Hault, Paris, France [1]

by 1904 - still in 1909
Theo von Rysselberghe (1862-1926), Brussels, Belgium [2]

by 1922 - 1928
Charles Pacquement, Paris, France [3]

- 1929
George Bernheim, Paris, France

1929 - 1934
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY, USA; London, England; Paris, France, purchased from George Bernheim [4]

1934/01/04 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from M. Knoedler & Co. [5]

The main source for this provenance is the exhibition catalog by Robert Herbert for "Georges Seurat, 1859-1891" on April 9, 1991 - January 12, 1992 [Herbert, Robert L. "Georges Seurat, 1859-1891." New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1991, cat. no. 208]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] According to Susan Canning's dissertation, this painting was one of two paintings by Seurat sold at the 1889 exhibition of Les Vingt in Brussels [Canning, Susan. M. "A History and Critical Review of the Salons of ‘Les Vingt,' 1884-1893," Ph.D. Diss., 1980, The Pennsylvania State University (Ann Arbor, 1982)]. Herbert states that this is presumably when G. de la Hault purchased the painting. At any rate, it was in his collection by 1890 when he lent it to the exhibition [Facsimile of catalog, Société des artistes indépendants, 6e exposition, in De Hauke, C.M. Seurat et son oeuvre, Paris: Gründ, 1961, p. 225]. De la Hault also lent the paintings to exhibitions in Brussels and Paris in 1892 [Facsimiles of catalogs, Société des artistes indépendants, 8me exposition and Neuvième exposition annuelle des XX in de Hauke, p. 228-229].

[2] Published in the collection of the artist Theo von Rysselberghe in 1904 [Meier-Graefe, Julius. Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Künste: Vergleichende Betrachtung der bildenden Kunste, als Beitrag zu einer nueun Ästhetik. Stuttgart: J. Hoffmann, 1904]. In 1905, it was listed in the collection of von Rysselberghe in the catalog for an exhibition [Facsimile of catalog, "Société des artistes indépendants, 21me exposition, rétrospective Georges Seurat," cat. no. 38, in de Hauke, p. 234-235]. The painting was listed in the von Rysselberghe collection in the catalog for a 1908-1909 exhibition [Facsimile of catalog, "Catalogue de l'Exposition Georges Seurat." cat. no. 72, in de Hauke, 1961, p. 239].

[3] The painting is listed as being in the collection of Pacquement in a 1922 exhibition catalog ["Cent Ans de Peinture Française." Paris, 1922, cat. no. 149]. Mentioned in a 1928 article on the Pacquement collection [Mauny, Jacques. "The Charles Pacquement Collection." "The Arts" XVIII, No. 1 (January 1928): p. 6]. In 1928 sale of the Pacquement collection according to a 1934 exhibition catalog ["Catalogue of a Century of Progress: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture." Chicago: Printed at the Lakeside press, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, 1934, cat. no. 323].

[4] The Knoedler stock number was A539.

[5] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, January 4, 1934.
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