georges seurat a sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte
NOTE: Seurat’s 19th century colour palette comprised the usual colour pigments of the time, including vermilion, cobalt blue and emerald green. He also used the then-new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), mainly for yellow highlights in the sunlit grass, but additionally in combination with blue and orange hues. Unfortunately, the zinc yellow has gradually darkened to a brownish colour, a process detectable even in Seurat’s lifetime.
For an interpretation of other pictures from the 19th and 20th centuries, see: Analysis of Modern Paintings (1800-2000).
In 2011, the cast of the US version of The Office re-created the painting for a poster to promote the show’s seventh-season finale. 
Some of the characters are doing curious things. The lady on the right side has a monkey on a leash. A lady on the left near the river bank is fishing. The area was known at the time as being a place to procure prostitutes among the bourgeoisie, a likely allusion of the otherwise odd “fishing” rod. In the painting’s center stands a little girl dressed in white (who is not in a shadow), who stares directly at the viewer of the painting. This may be interpreted as someone who is silently questioning the audience: “What will become of these people and their class?” Seurat paints their prospects bleakly, cloaked as they are in shadow and suspicion of sin. 
Georges Seurat, Study for “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” 1884 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)
Why did he dedicate so much time to these preparatory sketches? As Pointillists, Seurat and Signac were particularly interested in playing with perception and experiment with optics, resulting in a comprehensive and meticulous painting process.
La Grande Jatte, toward Clichy, 2006, via wikipedia.org
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is both the best-known and largest painting Georges Seurat ever created on a canvas. It depicts people relaxing in a suburban park on an island in the Seine River called La Grande Jatte, a popular retreat for the middle and upper class of Paris in the 19th century.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
The planning and cast of Grande Jatte was notoriously as complex as the work itself and Seurat went through many sketched drafts before he arrived on the final plan for the painted piece. The cast comprised three dogs, eight boats and 48 people as they congregated for a Sunday afternoon in the sunny park.