Key Dates: 1890-1900

This movement developed from Impressionism and involved the use of many small dots of colour to give a painting a greater sense of vibrancy when seen from a distance. The equal size dots never quite merge in the viewer’s perception resulting in a shimmering effect like one experiences on a hot and sunny day. One of the leading exponents was Seurat to whom the term was first applied in regard to his painting ‘La Grand Jette’ (1886).

Seurat was part of the Neo-Impressionist movement which included Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Signac. The word Divisionism describes the theory they followed while the actual process was known as pointillism.The effects of this technique, if used well, were often far more striking than the conventional approach of mixing colours together.

The Neo-Impressionist movement was brief yet influential. The term Divisionism was also the name of an Italian version of Neo-Impressionism in the 1890s and early 1900s, and one can trace a line to Futurism which was founded in 1909.