He was born in Paris 2 December 1859 making him 12 years old when the first Impressionist exhibition took Paris by storm. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Henri Lehmann, who was in turn a pupil of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Camille Pissarro, also studied under Lehmann and that may be how Seurat was exposed to the colour theories of the early Impressionists. In the second half of the 19th century most prominent Parisian artists socialized together and shared ideas. Even today central Paris is small and intimate and he must have exchanged ideas with Monet, Manet et al. Seurat took part in the last Impressionist exhibition of 1886.
I always wondered why the Pointillist trend didn't gain more of a following and why more paintings weren't completed in this style: I now realize that Seurat died when he was only 31 and that must have had an effect on momentum. Paul Signac took up the baton, but the method really didn't catch on.
Click the link and scroll down the page for COLOUR THEORY. I think this line of study is even more important than brushwork if you want to get to the next level in Art appreciation. I find this paragraph particularly interesting as it explains why viewing a painting and viewing an image of the same painting over the internet are two different things.
"While Chevreul based his theories on Newton's thoughts on the mixing of light, Ogden Rood based his writings on the work of Helmholtz. He analyzed the effects of mixing and juxtaposing material pigments. Rood valued as primary colors red, green, and blue-violet. Like Chevreul, he said that if two colors are placed next to each other, from a distance they look like a third distinctive color. He also pointed out that the juxtaposition of primary hues next to each other would create a far more intense and pleasing color, when perceived by the eye and mind, than the corresponding color made simply by mixing paint. Rood advised artists to be aware of the difference between additive and subtractive qualities of color, since material pigments and optical pigments (light) do not mix in the same way:"
- Material pigments: Red + Yellow + Blue = Black
- Optical / Light : Red + Green + Blue = White
Seurat died suddenly in Paris 29 March 1891. Two weeks later his baby son also passed away and the son he had conceived, but never saw, died soon after birth. No one is really sure of the cause.