The Hidden Images in "Sunday in the Park with George"

by:  Sabrina Katz at 10/07/2016

As you may know, the inspiration for Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George is based on Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The painting is 7-feet by 10-feet and focuses on the pointillist style of impressionism. Seurat added in a few hidden pieces not usually noticed when observing this oeuvre. The next time you observe the painting, look for these three hidden images:


1) Distorted Dog
If you look at the figures in the foreground, you’ll immediately notice the couple on the right hand side, taking up nearly the height of the painting. Just below are two pets: a monkey and a small dog. The dog, however, looks positively miniscule relative to the monkey and the woman’s dress. It almost gives a new meaning to “toy dog,” non?


2) Air Gone Amiss
Pay close attention to the Seine and you’ll see two steamboats floating by. However, the boat on the left has steam blowing west, while the boat to the right has wind blowing east. It’s a small trick, but a purposeful one nonetheless.


3) Towering Tree
Notice the shade provided by an undrawn tree in the foreground. It seems to be enormous, considering it is able to shade eight individuals, plus two dogs and a monkey. But take a look at the trees in the background of the painting. Hardly any of them are able to shade more than 2 people, and they all seem similar in size. How would a tree as large as the one in the foreground be possible on this island? Seurat knew exactly what he was doing, and this trick-of-the-eye is one that is often overlooked.


There are many more hidden images in this painting that you might not notice at first look. Can you see them? Let us know in the comments!

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