During the summer months of 1885, Georges Seurat painted a series of scenes of the Normandy coastline. One of the most famous is The English Channel at Grandcamp Evening. Like many of Seurat's sea and landscapes, it presents an image that is well-balanced and serene. The scene depicts the naturally wide bay and the distant jetties in front of the small village perched on top of the headland. In the lower left corner, there is a white picket fence positioned parallel to the shore. A little to the right of the picture, there is a yacht drifting on the calmest grey sea. Seuter's dark painted border deliberately increases the contrasting shades within the picture.
The importance of The English Channel at Grandcamp Evening lies in how Seurat uses a limited colour palette to capture the atmosphere of the gathering twilight. The two-tone grey streaks of the cloudless sky darken to the highest point of the scene. They are perfectly balanced by the silvery-white shades of the calm waters filling the bay. The village has a hazy, brown appearance highlighted with a dash of purple, a colour scheme that is repeated on the pathway near the fence. The viewer's gaze is inevitably drawn towards the two brightest points of the canvas; the fence and the sea in the centre of the bay.
As dusk descends, colours naturally lose their intensity, a feat which Seurat successfully translates in The English Channel at Grandcamp Evening by the use of thousands of tiny dots of unmixed oils. It is Seurat's own technique which he referred to as Divisionism, but later became known as Pointillism. Seurat made intense scientific studies of how different colours placed next to each other blend with light. He used his discoveries, based on work by Delacroix, Chevreul and David Sutter to produce scientifically influenced art. To Seuter's mathematical mind, his use of dots in The English Channel at Grandcamp Evening was a welcome relief to the spontaneous, hurried brushstrokes of Impressionism.
Seuter's atmospheric paintings, including The English Channel at Grandcamp Evening, inspired his friend, Paul Signac, to use the technique of Pointillism. As the first of the Neo-Impressionists, Seuter's work was to inspire Modernists and Cubists such as Picasso. The English Channel at Grandcamp Evening measures 26" by 32.5" (66.2 cm by 82.4 cm). The oil on canvas is held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, America.