George Minne holds a distinct place in European Symbolism, as sculpture, draftsman and graphic artist. The medium of sculpture is not evident in that Symbolism. However, one of the distinguishing characteristics of Symbolism is precisely the veiling of the visible reality. By suggesting through a new world of dream and reflection, Symbolism alludes to an unspoken, interior emotion and goes against traditional sculpture that since the Renaissance represented the human figure in a realistic way. With his sculptural works-and also in his drawings-Minne thus goes radically against the idealistic artistic views of the academies and against the social realism of the 19th Century. He grounds himself, however, upon the existing themes, but he simultaneously adds a universal character to them. By making abstract from the telling aspect of the chosen themes, he arrives at a new iconography.
Minne presented for the first time in exhibition in 1989 at the tri-annual Salon of Ghent, a year later with Les XX in Brussels. From 1890 on, he exhibited annually, first at Les XX, then later La Libre Esthétique in Brussels. The artist achieved international renown only with his participation in the Wiener Secession in 1900, where he showed, among others, the Kneeling Youth and the Fountain with Kneeling Youths from 1898, the highpoint in the oeuvre of the artist and also in the symbolist sculpture of the fin de siècle.
Between 1897-1899 a few works appeared that were closely linked with the ornamental Art Nouveau style, such as the Small Injured Figure from 1898 and the Woman Bathing from 1899. Also, the wooden image, The Bricklayer from 1897, originally meant for a stairwell in a home designed by Horta, was associated with the art-nouveau view in which sculpture took on a decorative function within interior design.