MUCHA Alphonse

Alfons Mucha has worked mainly as a graphic artist and has produced numerous art prints, etches and lithographs. He became one of the most important figures of Art Nouveau in the late 1890s, when illustrations and posters emerged as popular art and new printing processes were developed.

Alfons Mucha was born in 1860 in Moravia (nowadays the Czech Republic). He worked as a painter and studied art in Austria and Germany, before moving to Paris, France, where he had to fight for his life and produced graphic works and illustrations for art books and calendars.

In 1895 he received a commission to create the poster for the play “Gismonda” featuring Sarah Bernhardt.

The immediate success that followed, the originality and sensitivity of Mucha’s new style, and great public appreciation, prompted the legendary actress to offer him a six-year contract to design the posters, sets and stage costumes for her plays.

By 1898, Mucha had become a well-known and creative Art Nouveau artist. He designed and published postcards, theatre posters, numerous illustrations and a series of decorative panels centered on themes inspired by Nature and printed on paper or silk. He produced an incredible quantity of drawings, pastels or watercolors and motifs for interior design, jewelry and clothing.

In 1902, he published the “Decorative Documents” portfolio, which summarized his artistic credo, his theories on art and the decorative elements of Art Nouveau. From 1907 to 1928, he created the “Slavic Epic”, a series of gigantic murals for the city of Prague.

Contemporary of Victor Horta’s Art Nouveau works in Brussels, Alphonse Mucha was influenced by Symbolism and by the social aspects of William Morris’ Arts and Crafts Movement in England. He tried to give access to the beauty of art to all social classes and to elevate decorative elements to the status of works of art. He developed his own aesthetic ideals and his original style, which became a landmark of his time, was called the “Mucha Style”.

Mucha’s graphic works are based on a solid central composition and highly symbolic subjects, depicting idealized young women in sensual or provocative poses, delicately wrapped by their vaporous hair and dressed in light dresses, adorned with elements inspired by nature, such as the foliage of weeping willows, wonderful flowers and extravagant, sumptuous jewelry. The sculpted figures are detailed by fine, expressive black lines and by soft, natural colors enriched with gold. The decorative friezes often have a framing function, and, floral, geometric or abstract motifs decorate the illustration.