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Seurat’s Circus Sideshow: A Hypnotic Work

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Noise, vitality, movement, boisterousness...these are some of the things that one would expect from a circus scene. But in Georges Seurat's painting Parade de Cirque, everything is unusually still, almost petrified. Even more strange is the way Seurat painted the work, composed of a profusion of dazzling dots.

In this talk, Professor Richard Thomson explores the mystery and fanciful technique of one of Seurat's masterworks. What's that clown up to? Who is that dapper ringmaster? Could this circus scene tell us something about the political climate Seurat was working in?

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Richard Thomson has been Watson Gordon Professor of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh since 1996. His public roles have also included Trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland, member of the Conseil Scientifique of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, and Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford. An expert on late nineteenth century French art, he has both published books and curated exhibitions. His books include monographs on Seurat and Degas, two thematic texts on art and society in early Third Republic France -- Art of the Actual and The Troubled Republic -- and a tiny one about Van Gogh's Starry Night. He has curated more than fifteen exhibitions. These include major retrospectives at the Grand Palais, Paris -- Toulouse-Lautrec in 1992 and the record-breaking Monet in 2010 -- as well as thematic exhibitions such as Dreams of Nature. Symbolist Landscape in Europe (2012) and Splendeurs et Misères, an exhibition about images of nineteenth century prostitution staged in 2015-16 at the Musée d'Orsay and the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. His Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre was seen at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. He has also curated two exhibitions dedicated to single works by Seurat, Bathers, Asnières at the National Gallery in London (1997) and Seurat's Circus Sideshow at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in 2017. His exhibition *Monet & Architecture *was held at the National Gallery, London in 2018.

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