Georges Seurat painted his first masterpiece, Bathers at Asnières, in 1884. He painted what proved to be his last masterpiece, Le Cirque, in 1891. The intervening years saw a garbling of the taxonomy of French painting. We call it “Neo-Impressionism” thanks to the term’s 1886 coinage by the astute Félix Fénéon, but the actual workings of the movement entailed several competing arguments about the future of art. Pointillists were getting into spats with Cloisonnists. Symbolists crossed rhetorical swords with Naturalists. Soon after, the Nabis arrived on the scene. One might have been tempted to call it a circus.

The curious thing about Pointillism is how little talent it enabled.

The curious thing about Pointillism is how little talent it ...