Seurat’s Circus Sideshow at The Met Fifth Avenue, February 17 – May 29, 2017

“Taking as its focus one of The Met’s most captivating masterpieces, this thematic exhibition affords a unique context for appreciating the heritage and allure of Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), painted in 1887-88, by Georges Seurat (1859-91). Anchored by a remarkable group of related works by Seurat that fully illuminates the lineage of the motif in his inimitable conté crayon drawings, the presentation explores the fascination the sideshow subject held for other artists in the 19th century, ranging from the great caricaturist Honoré Daumier at mid-century to the young Pablo Picasso at the fin de siècle. This rich visual narrative unfolds in a provocative display of more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, period posters, and illustrated journals, supplemented by musical instruments and an array of documentary material intended to give a vivid sense of the seasonal fairs and traveling circuses of the day. Among the highlights is Fernand Pelez’s epic Grimaces and Misery—The Saltimbanques (Petit Palais, Paris), of exactly the same date as Seurat’s magisterial work and, with its life-size performers aligned in friezelike formation across a 20-foot stage, a match for his ambition.” — The Met

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), 1887–88. Oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 59 in. (99.7 x 149.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960. Image courtesy The Met

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Jean-François Raffaëlli (French, 1850–1924). Saltimbanques—The Sideshow Orchestra (Les Saltimbanques—L’Orchestre en parade), ca. 1884. Oil on paper, laid down on canvas, 15 x 21 5/8 in. (38 x 55 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy The Met

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Fernand Pelez (French, 1843–1913 Paris). Grimaces and Misery—The Saltimbanques,1888. Oil on canvas, in five sections, 87 3/8 in. x 20 ft. 6 7/8 in. (222 x 627 cm). Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris. Collection Dutuit. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). Sidewalk Show (Une Parade), ca. 1883–84. Conté crayon on paper, 12 5/8 x 9 5/8 in. (32.1 x 24.5 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Image courtesy The Met

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Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). Pierrot and Colombine, ca. 1886–88. Conté crayon on paper, 9 3/4 x 12 3/8 in. (24.8 x 31.2 cm). Kasama Nichido Museum of Art. Image courtesy The Met

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Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). Trombonist, 1887–88. Conté crayon with white chalk on paper, 12 1/4 x 9 3/8 in. (31.1 x 23.8 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Henry P. McIlhenny. Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986. Image courtesy The Met

Photography by Alex Jamison

Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). At the Divan Japonais, ca. 1887–88. Conté crayon on paper, 12 3/8 x 9 1/4 in. (31.5 x 23.5 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy The Met

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Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). High C (Forte Chanteuse), ca. 1887–88. Conté crayon and white gouache on paper, 11 7/8 x 9 1/8 in. (30 x 23 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy The Met

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Emile Bernard (French, Lille 1868–1941 Paris). Saltimbanques, 1887. Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 19 3/8 in. (65 x 49 cm). Museo de Bellas Artes Juan Manuel Blanes, Montevideo. Image courtesy The Met

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

Photography by David Allison Recto Shot

Honoré Daumier (French, Marseilles 1808-1879 Valmondois). The Sideshow (La Parade), ca. 1865–66. Charcoal, pen and ink, gray wash, watercolor, gouache, and conté crayon on paper, 17 1/4 x 13 1/4 in. (43.8 x 33.7 cm). Private collection. Image courtesy The Met

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Honoré Daumier (French, Marseilles 1808-1879 Valmondois). The Strong Man, ca. 1865. Oil on wood, 10 5/8 x 13 7/8 in. (27 x 35.2 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Image courtesy The Met

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

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Louis Hayet (French, Pontoise 1864-1940 Cormeilles-en-Parisis). Fair at Night, the Sideshow (Fête foraine la nuit, la parade), 1888. Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 36 1/4 in. (73 x 92 cm). Association des Amis du Petit Palais, Geneva. Image courtesy The Met

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Installation view. Photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary

Rouault Georges (1871-1958). Paris, Centre Pompidou - MusÈe national d'art moderne - Centre de crÈation industrielle. AM3652P.

Georges Rouault (French, Paris 1871–1958 Paris). Sideshow (Parade) 1907–10. Watercolor, oil, ink, and pastel on paper, laid down on canvas, 25 5/8 x 38 1/8 in. (65 x 100 cm). Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne/Centre de Création Industrielle. Gift of Mme Rouault and her children, 1959. Image courtesy The Met

Seurat’s Circus Sideshow is organized by Susan Alyson Stein, Engelhard Curator of Nineteenth-Century European Painting, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and guest curator Richard Thomson, Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh, with the assistance of Laura D. Corey, Research Assistant, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Title photograph by Corrado Serra for Arts Summary.