GEORGES LEMMENBelgian 1865 - 1916

GEORGES LEMMENBelgian 1865 - 1916

Lemmen was the son of an architect and studied under Amedee Bourson at the academy in St Joost-ten-Node. He was invited in 1889 to join the Cercle des XX group in Belgium and was a vital member of les XX (the Twenty) which had been launched in 1884 by Oscar Maus. The Cercle dex XX was reborn in 1894 as La Libre Esthetique. He worked with luminaries of the time such as Gustave de Smet and his brother Leon.

Lemmen had emerged as a powerful force in Belgian artistic circles, not least by bringing the work of artists such as Seurat and Signac to wider public attention. He was greatly influenced by the Pointilliste works of Georges Seurat, Lemmen loved the experimental novelty of ‘colour theory’ and the scientific approach to colour brought to the art world by the theorist Charles Henry in the late 1870s. The present work is a tour de force of Pointilliste brushwork and shows the dexterity and patience with which Georges Lemmen worked.

It was in the early days of the Cercle des XX that Lemmen espoused the pointilliste technique. His earlier painting was clearly influenced by the Neo-Impressionists, over time however his style became more subtle and nuanced – recalling the work of Van Rysselberghe (another member of the Cercle des XX). With the re-launch in 1894, Lemmen’s work became more intimiste in character, most notably in his portraits, nudes and still lifes, where the influence of Vuillard and Bonnard was unmistakeable. From 1911 onwards he would make a major contribution to the renewal of the graphic and decorative arts in terms of his input to the new free aesthetic and to Art Nouveau. Although his draughtsmanship retained its essential purity and elegance of line, his painting became more fleshy, imprecise and sensual.

In 1908 Lemmen created a new printing font while cooperating on the publication of an edition of Frederich Nietzche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. He continued his involvement in publishing, working as an illustrator for several periodicals, illustrating a number of books and contributing critical reviews to the periodical Art Moderne.

Between 1889 and 1893 Lemmen exhibited at the Salon des Independants in Paris, aligning himself with the Neo-Impressionists. In 1893, Henry van de Velde invited him to participate at the Pour l’Art association that had been created in Antwerp. He travelled to the South of France in 1911. By this time he had already exhibited twice at the Galerie Druet in Paris, and he had a further exhibition in Brussels in 1913. He died in Ukkel on the 15th July, 1916.

He is represented in many major public and private collections including the Musee Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique in Brussels and the Musee D’Orsay in Paris (River Thames & Portrait de Madame Lemmen).