Thames Scene, the Elevator
Georges Lemmen, Belgian, Thames Scene, the Elevator, ca. 1890, Oil on canvas; 61.6 x 85.1 cm (24 3/16 x 33 1/2 inches), Anonymous gift 57.166
Georges Lemmen began to forge his own method of pointillist paint application after exposure to the work of Georges Seurat, whose Afternoon on the Grande Jatte was exhibited in Belgium in 1887. Thames Scene, The Elevator, one of two important paintings Lemmen made of factories along London’s River Thames, shows his response to Seurat’s painstaking technique. In preparation for this painting, Lemmen first established structural details, then mapped the scene in a preliminary oil sketch. He then proceeded to a finished version in which the image was formed by layering successively smaller points of pigment. Massing closely related hues, such as yellows and oranges, and mingling complementaries like reds and blues, he created luminous transitions from water to smoke to sky. Descriptive and tonal information are seamlessly interwoven, creating an effect that is both dense and atmospheric.