Georges Seurat (French, 1859–1891)
Conté crayon on paper
24 1/2 x 18 11/16 in. (62.2 x 47.5 cm)
Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960 (61.101.16)
Seurat's study of his friend the artist Aman-Jean (18581936) is one of the great portrait drawings of the nineteenth century. A remarkably assured work for a young artist, it was shown in the Paris Salon of 1883 shortly after Seurat's twenty-third birthday. Aman-Jean and Seurat knew each other as students at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Following their studies, they took a studio together, and it was there that Aman-Jean posed for this portrait. Aman-Jean kept the drawing, and referred to it many years later in a letter to Seurat's biographer as "a very beautiful portrait of me." Seurat chose a classic profile pose for his sitter, sensitively portraying the artist with brush in hand and a facial expression of deep concentration. Seurat deftly used conté crayon in tonal gradations from the darkest black to the softest gray, culminating in the luminescent white of the unmarked paper.