“The Circus”, painted in 1891 by Georges Seurat, is a remarkable achievement of the short-lived Pointillist style, and a breathless character study of a wide range of activities and performances all occurring simultaneously beneath a circus big top. Spending an entire year working on the canvas, Seurat died before the work could be finished, aged only 31. Despite the sizable impact of the artist’s style and the vastly influential nature of his small body of work, Seurat’s hopes for the work were humble. He wanted the piece to feature at the Salon des Artistes Independents, so that a Symbolist critic he admired might comment upon his work. With Seurat’s death the Pointillist style — a form of painting composed of small dots of perfect color — departed from the artistic sphere, but lives on in the collections of the Parisian treasure trove the Musee d’Orsay, where “The Circus” is held. Aiming to reflect late-nineteenth century interests in corporeal movement and dynamism, Seurat’s canvas also contains a marked influence from Japanese woodblock printing, the popular poster-art of Parisian street life, and prefigures the fractured viewpoints that would characterize the early modernist movement of the first decade of the twentieth century. Influenced by the ageing artist Edgar Degas, Seurat focused on “The Circus” as a means to emphasize the social strata of Parisian leisure pursuits. In the stands of the grand parade are the whole gamut of social classes, indicated by their gestures, clothing, and reaction to the spectacle before them. This stunning mosaic of pure color and bombastic drama is a poignant end to Seurat’s all-too-brief career.