Artist: Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859–1891 Paris)
Medium: Conté crayon on Michallet paper
Dimensions: 12 5/16 x 9 7/16 in. (31.2 x 24.1 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1951; acquired from The Museum of Modern Art, Lillie P. Bliss Collection
Accession Number: 55.21.1
This tranquil portrait of the artist’s mother, Ernestine Faivre, is a tour de force of modeling in Conté crayon, Seurat’s favorite graphic medium. The work is drawn entirely without line in tonal passages of velvety black. Scarce atmospheric light, subtly evoked by lessening pressure on the crayon, illuminates the interior where the woman sews, creating a serene ambiance of quiet domesticity. The abstract beauty achieved in such works earned the praise of fellow artist Paul Signac, who called them "the most beautiful painter’s drawings that ever existed."