Painted between 1879 and 1881, Vase of Flowers is the only still life oil painting that Georges Seurat, a Parisian-born artist, is known to have painted. This work of Impressionism is one of the rare surviving pieces that display the content and vision of Seurat's earliest work; it is believed by scholars that this is due to the fact that Seurat himself destroyed the large majority of the canvases that were produced during the same time period as this piece.
The painting depicts a singular vase of red bloomed flowers, placed along on a table with a notable use of shadow to add depth and texture to the scene. Note the prominent use of red pigment in the painting. This aligns itself very neatly with the academic trend in France during the 1870s, particularly in the realm of flower painting. In this sense, comparisons can be made to the works of someone like the romantic master, Eugene Delacroix.
In terms of exploring the painting to find hints of what would eventually become Seurat's signature style of pointillism, nothing is overtly indicative but there are small signs of a developing niche. For example, vertical strokes of repeating colours are used to cover much of the background, and this alludes to a technique that Seurat would go on to use to much more prominent effect in this period. There is a crisscrossing nature to the patchwork of the brown and blue brushstroke work that makes up the shadow being cast by the vase. These are approximations of the technique that Seurat would later perfect in his oil sketches.
Due to the vastly different nature of this painting in relation to the rest of Seurat's surviving work, it would be fair to assume that the artist was simply honing his craft and discovering his unique vision at this early stage of his creative career. He went on to become one of the founding fathers of Post-Impression. All of his other, more famed works are paintings depicting lively, moving scenes such as fishermen mid-catch in Fishing In The Seine and ladies socialising in A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, probably his most famous picture and one which took two years to complete. In many ways, one could almost interpret Vase Of Flowers as an early venture into the world of defined form, with Seurat yet to actually discover what it was he would most love to paint. That preference would come later, but this early painting displays the seeds of a blossoming style.