Georges Lemmen was the son of an architect and studied under Amédée Bourson at the academy in St Joost-ten-Node. He was invited in 1889 to join the Group of Twenty ( Cercle des XX) which had been launched in 1884 by Oscar Maus and had in the interim emerged as an influential force in Belgian artistic circles, not least by bringing to public and critical attention the work of such artists as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. The Cercle des XX would be reborn in 1894 as La Libre Esthétique.
In the early days of the Cercle des XX, Lemmen espoused a pointilliste technique. His earlier painting was clearly influenced by the Neo-Impressionists; over time, however, his style became more subtle and nuanced - recalling, perhaps, that of his compatriot Van Rysselberghe, another Cercle des XX member. With the group's rebirth as the Libre Esthétique, Lemmen's work became more intimiste in character, most notably in his portraits, nudes and still-lifes, where the influence of Bonnard and Vuillard is unmistakable, as is that of Renoir, particularly after Lemmen's travels in the Midi in 1911. From this point onwards, he would go on to 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, his compositions governed less by technical considerations than by the urgent need to express his emotions.
Between 1889 and 1893, Lemmen exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris, aligning himself with the Neo-Impressionists. In 1893, Henry van de Velde invited him to participate in the Pour l'Art association that had been created in Antwerp. He travelled to the south of France in 1911. By this juncture, he had already exhibited solo on two occasions (in 1906 and 1908) at the Galerie Druet in Paris. A further solo exhibition in 1913, his first in Brussels, cemented Lemmen's reputation.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Bremen (Kunsthalle): Standing Nude Combing her Hair
Brussels (Mus. royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique): Children's Room (watercolour); Reading; Couture; Young Girl by the Sea (1913)
Ostend (Mus. voor Schone Kunsten)
Paris (Mus. d'Orsay): River Thames; Portrait of Madame Lemmen (drawing)