Georges Seurat was born into a very rich family in Paris. His father, Antoine Chrysostom Seurat, was a legal official and a native of Champagne; his mother, Ernestine Faivre, was Parisian. Georges Seurat first studied art with Justin Lequiene, a sculptor. Seurat attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1878 and 1879. After a year of service at Brest military academy, he returned to Paris in 1880. He shared a small studio on the Left Bank with two student friends before moving to a studio of his own. For the next two years he devoted himself to mastering the art of black and white drawing. He spent 1883 on his first major painting - a huge canvas titled Bathers at Asnieres.
After his painting was rejected by the Paris Salon, Seurat turned away from such establishments, instead allying himself with the independent artists of Paris. In 1884 he and other artists (including Maximilien Luce) formed the Societe des Artistes Independants. There he met and befriended fellow artist Paul Signac. Seurat shared his new ideas about pointillism with Signac, who subsequently painted in the same idiom. In the summer of 1884 Seurat began work on his masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, which took him two years to complete.
Later he moved from the Boulevard de Clichy to a quieter studio nearby, where he lived secretly with a young model, Madeleine Knobloch. In February 1890 she gave birth to his son. It was not until two days before his death that he introduced his young family to his parents. Shortly after his death, Madeleine gave birth to his second son, whose name is unknown, and who died at birth or soon after.
The cause of Seurat's death is uncertain, and has been attributed to a form of meningitis, pneumonia, infectious angina, and/or diphtheria. His last ambitious work, The Circus, was left unfinished at the time of his death.