georges seurat sunday afternoon on the island of la grande jatte
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. 
Seurat’s palette consisted of the usual pigments of his time   such as cobalt blue, emerald green and vermilion. Additionally, Seurat used then new pigment zinc yellow (zinc chromate), predominantly for yellow highlights in the sunlit grass in the middle of the painting but also in mixtures with orange and blue pigments. In the century and more since the painting’s completion, the zinc yellow has darkened to brown—a color degeneration that was already showing in the painting in Seurat’s lifetime.  The discoloration of the originally bright yellow zinc yellow (zinc chromate) to brownish color is due to the chemical reaction of the chromate ions to orange-colored dichromate ions.  In the third stage during 1888–89 Seurat added the colored borders to his composition.
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.
While the styles explored by Post-Impressionist artists are diverse, most featured flatness, formality, and exaggerated color in their work—characteristics that are evident in A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Seurat’s first major pointillist work was Bathers at Asnieres (1883-4, National Gallery, London). Although rejected by the official Paris Salon, the work was shown at the Salon des Independants, an alternative event co-founded by Seurat himself, where he met fellow pointillists Paul Signac (1863-1935) and Henri-Edmond Cross (1856-1910), who helped him to further develop the idiom. Shortly afterwards Seurat began painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which took him two years to finish. It was exhibited for the first time in May 1886 at the final Impressionist exhibition: an ironic occurrence since the work is now seen as one of the first major examples of Post-Impressionist painting (1880-95).
The essential meaning of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is far from clear. However art critics believe that it should be interpreted in comparison to its sister work Bathers at Asnieres. They believe that ‘La Jatte’ represents the French bourgeoisie, a decaying class that has fallen victim to lust and vice, and which is now in the shadows. In contrast, the sun is shining on the working class bathers of Asnieres, who represent the bright future of France.
Executed on a large canvas painted in 1884, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte reveals everything magical about Seurat’s world – it’s beautiful and disturbing, sunlit and shadowed, silent and noisy, all at the same time. The painting’s dimensions are approximately 2 by 3 meters (7 by 10 feet), representing a truly huge size for pieces painted during this period.
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte was painted in two sessions, the first between May 1884 and March 1885, and the second from October 1885 to May 1886. Seurat claimed he sat in the park for hours upon hours, creating numerous sketches of the various figures in order to perfect their form before he even thought about starting the actual painting.
Thanks to his involvement in the artist collective the Société des Artistes Indépendants, the daring young painter’s reputation was growing before A Sunday on La Grande Jatte —1884 debuted. But while his output was seminal, it was also cut short in 1891 when Seurat died of an undetermined disease at age 31.
Seurat’s groundbreaking techniques were a major turnoff for some critics at the Impressionist exhibit where A Sunday on La Grande Jatte —1884 debuted in 1886. Other observers sneered at the rigid profiles of Seurat’s subjects. Meant to recall Egyptian hieroglyphics, these poses were negatively compared to tin soldiers.