"Some say they see poetry in my paintings," Seurat once wrote. "I see only science." Dissatisfied with the technique of the Impressionists, which he considered spontaneous and unmethodical, Seurat turned to color theory and optics to develop his own method of painting, which he called Divisionism. Instead of mixing colors together on his palette, he applied individual, unmixed paints to the canvas, leaving the viewer's eye to mix the colors optically.
This painting is one in a series of seascapes that Seurat painted in the French coastal village of Grandcamp during the summer of 1885. Short horizontal brushstrokes fill the sky and sea, whereas the land is composed of dots of color. Seurat added the painted border later to complement the colors on the canvas and intensify its luminosity.