First in a series

During his stay in Honfleur in the summer of 1886, Georges Seurat works on six harbour views simultaneously. A corner of the harbour of Honfleur is the first painting that he begins. It remains unfinished because the black ship sailed out of the harbour after eight days.

From sketch to stippling

For his harbour views, Seurat first makes crayon drawings and small sketches in oils 'en plein air'. In the oil sketches, he indicates the colours he has in mind with rough dots and smudges. He then lays out the works in broad and long brushstrokes in his studio. Finally he applies the stippling, the fine dots, on top of the dry base layers.


The fact that this painting is unfinished is evident from, for instance, the beige foreground, the belly of the ship and the building on the left. These also display dots, but mainly the somewhat coarser brushstrokes from the previous phase. Nonetheless, after returning to Paris Seurat exhibits the work at the Salon des Indépendants, where it is well received. The art critic Félix Fénéon calls it his ‘finest painting’.