Produced in 1888, the painting of 'Port-en-Bessin, Entrance to the Harbour' is typical of the landscapes created by French artist Georges Seurat.
The painting describes the entrance to the Normandy port of Port-en-Bessin as seen by the artist. The painting uses the pointillism style favoured and pioneered by Seurat. The effect is to create an image by building up dots of oil paint on the canvas while leaving the areas required to be lighter in colour with less dots. The painting seems to have been conceived when viewed from a higher piece of land overlooking the harbour. The bottom third of the canvas is taken up by a patch of rough, grassy ground while the majority of the picture is dominated by by the blue-green colouring of the sea and the light-blue of the sky. The number of sails and boats visible in the painting suggests that the picture was painted during the height of the summer when the harbour would be busy. The painting is very much in the style of Seurat who constantly painted his landscapes without any human content. The effects created by pointillism contribute to the tranquil perception of the image. The effect is one of 'pastel' shades rather than the dramatic use of colour normally associated with an oil on canvas painting.
The narrow band of sky joining with the sea on the horizon is typical of the artists wish to make his painting to be quite 'geometrical' in design. In the same way, the 'fingers' of the harbour wall reach out in straight lines which provide a further organizing of the areas of the canvas while contrasting with the darker colour of the sea.
In order to enhance the vibrancy of the colours in his paintings, the artist would often surround his pictures with a dark band or frame in order to provide a strong contrast.
Seurat was vastly influenced by French scientist Chevreul who had produced a 'colour wheel' indicating the primary and intermediary colours. In 1880 The artist read Sutter's 'Phenomena of Vision' which led to him coming to the understanding that the harmony of colours could be 'learned' in the same way that musical harmony could be understood. This revelation of being able to apply 'mathematics in art' gleaned from the scientists led Seurat to develop his own way of painting using pointillism.
The contribution of Seurat was recognized by the 'cubist' movement of the early twentieth century who developed the legacy of the work he had pioneered.