A drawing of a nude woman, seemingly kneeling on a chair, although the chair is not visible. The background is completely dark with the figure contrasting in light colours. Both legs and arms fade into the edges of the paper, and there are no harsh lines.
Georges Seurat (1859-1891), Female nude, circa 1879 - 1881, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

Female Nude

Georges Seurat

Likely executed during a life drawing class, this early work shows Seurat developing his distinctive drawing style. The figure, whose pose suggests she is leaning on a chair, emerges from the network of vigorous crayon marks that have been built up to form a subtle contrast between light and dark.

To achieve the rich blacks, Seurat used a coarsely textured paper that caught the oily Conté crayon as it was dragged across the surface. He avoided harsh outlines, instead shaping the volume of the figure from masses of light and shadow. It is the extraordinary atmosphere of this drawing that gives this work its power, with the stillness of the figure captured through dense layers of sinuous lines that almost vibrate with energy.  

You might also like

Virtual Tour

Enjoy a virtual stroll through each room of The Courtauld Gallery, as it was before it closed for its current major renovation....


We have partnered with national and international museums and galleries so more audiences can engage with our collection. ...

See more collection highlights

Explore The Courtauld’s remarkable collection of paintings, prints and drawings, sculpture and decorative arts.

Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)