Oliver Bertrand has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
A member of Les XX from 1888, Georges Lemmen, initially exhibited alongside other Belgian avant-garde artists including Théo van Rysselberghe. As the influence of Georges Seurat exerted itself over both Les XX and the Salon des Indépendants, where Lemmen exhibited in the early 1890s, Lemmen's technique reflected the Pointillism and selected range of pigments of the neo-impressionists, a style he did not break with until 1895.
The intimate nature of La modiste, which depicts the artist's wife Marie, not only reflects the influence of the Nabis painters Vuillard and Bonnard at the turn of the century, but also Lemmen's interest in the applied arts, notably the decoration of posters, fabrics and wallpapers. The Nabis influence can be seen in the use of decorative patchworks of colour and patterned materials, which also evoke the aesthetics of William Morris. These intimate and exquisitely painted works, often depicting the artist's wife and children, characterise this period. Lemmen returned to this motif and executed a larger but less finished version of La modiste in 1903 (reproduced in R. Cardon, Georges Lemmen: monographie générale suivie du Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre gravé, Antwerp, 2000, p. 232), possibly because he was in the process of selling the original, which was purchased directly from the artist in September 1903 by Dr Albert Gulin, Helsinki (fig. 1). Gulin was a major industrialist and art critic in Helsinki in the 1940s and 1950s. The piece has remained in a private collection for over 100 years until recently acquired by the present owner.