A Lost Poster from the Belle Epoche

A poster from France c1900

I have a bound collection of L’Art Decorative magazines published between 1899 and 1900. Amongst many beautiful illustrations and photographs is a monochrome reproduction of a poster by the Belgium post-impressionist Georges Lemmen.

I have never been able to find a colour version of this poster and the only copies I have found are probably from the same magazine reproduction. The cafe this was produced for has long since disappeared. At 82 Rue des Petit-Champs there is now a bank. From where the cafe was you can see a Starbucks and a Pret a Manger – not quite the same.

As I understand, Georges Lemmen only spent a brief period producing posters before returning to fine art. Like any commercial artist he was not shy about using references he had already drawn. The reproduction I found is shown here with two of Lemmen’s paintings. They clearly show the inspiration for the two figures in the poster.

Lemmen’s paintings often used rich, deep colour schemes, whereas his posters (those that I have found) use a more subdued palette. I have no idea what the original colours may have been in this work, so this is by no means an academic interpretation. My version was done mainly for my amusement and because I wanted to bring this beautifully balanced composition back to life (because it is not his original work, I have not included his monogram in my version).

Works by Georges Lemmen

A print of this is available in my Etsy shop, bruceaikenart.

Published by Bruce Aiken

A maths and physics student who ran away to art college and has worked as a freelance creative ever since.

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