Georges Lemmen (Belgian, 1865-1916) was a leading figure in the Belgian avant-garde at the turn of the 20th century. Lemmen’s paintings and drawings were featured in the exhibitions of the Brussels group Les XX from 1889 to 1893 and the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris from 1889 to 1892. During this period he was instrumental in bringing the Neo-Impressionist painters Georges Seurat and Paul Signac to the attention of Belgian viewers, while his own portraits, landscape paintings, and genre works made a distinctive contribution to the Neo-Impressionist idiom.
After the death of Seurat, Lemmen abandoned the tight execution and optical approach of Neo-Impressionism. Following an inventive period of involvement in art nouveau graphic design and applied arts, Lemmen returned to painting from around 1900 to the end of his life. This ‘Nabi’ period, as Cardon terms it, constitutes a remarkably coherent and compelling body of painting, the strongest of which are little masterpieces of intimiste art: depictions of his family members and close friends, usually women, in the private world of the Lemmen’s home and garden. These works were inspired by the Nabis (particularly Vuillard) both thematically and in their formal, planar configurations of line and color. Pictorially dense and deliberately decorative in their complex interlocking of shapes and patterns, these works offer a rich, yet guarded view of the absorbing activities, solitary or social, that comprise the quiet mornings, afternoons, and evenings of women at home: waking, napping, talking, reading, dressing, sewing, taking tea.