On Georges Seurat’s The Gleaner

Author: Natalie Joelle

  • On Georges Seurat’s The Gleaner


    On Georges Seurat’s The Gleaner



Georges Seurat’s fascinating work The Gleaner is an ambiguous abstraction of an important figure in nineteenth-century French culture, which pushes the motif of the bending subject in Seurat’s work to a dramatically curved extreme. Yet in spite of being included in several major exhibitions and available in the British Museum’s public collection, the drawing, also known as A Man Gleaning , remains barely documented and demands further research. To dwell in detail upon the specificities of a single drawing throughout the form of an extended essay is an uncommon approach in the Anglophone literature on Seurat’s work on paper. This study will address the imbalance in the field by offering a sustained critical account of this one early-1880s drawing by the Neo-Impressionist artist. With reference to contemporary optical theory and comparative approaches, this piece argues that Seurat’s plant-like gleaner fathoms the surface of visual anatomy; intervenes as an entoptical phenomenon; blurs the bounds of legality; enacts a metaphor for information and evokes vitality. The drawing is a troubling, multivalent assessment of what it might mean to glean: to gather what reapers have left behind.

How to Cite:

Joelle, N., (2013) “On Georges Seurat’s The Gleaner”, Dandelion: Postgraduate Arts Journal and Research Network 4(1). doi:

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Published on
26 Apr 2013
Peer Reviewed