To the lovers of beautiful things … you are in the right place! In today’s post I would like to drag you into a world of allure and delicacy, of grace and elegance …
… This magical world was created more than a century ago by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) who is recognized as one of the most representative interpreters of Art Nouveau. During his time, he was a promoter of a new communicative language, of an innovative and powerful visual art: the female images of his posters were widespread and popular in all the fields of the society of his time and even today we can easily identify his unmistakable style, which has made him an eternal symbol of the Belle Époque.
His artistic works are the quintessential celebration of beauty: feminine portraits surrounded by flowers, delicate muses in the Garden of Eden … the Czech artist made a name for himself, not only transforming the art of the poster, but also establishing the basis of the Art Nouveau style.
“Divine nature speaks to our soul... She awakes in our hearts joy and happiness by the simple lines, proportions and colour of a small flower.”
- Alphonse Mucha
Alfons Mucha's is certainly not one of the best-known names in the field of art history. Yet, his paintings and especially his drawings I believe you have seen them a thousand times. Indeed, he was an artist who - more than many others - managed to mark an era. That was possible thanks to a very personal style, in line with the fashion of the time in which he found himself acting.
His career as a poster designer started somehow like a fairytale, when Mucha met Sarah Bernhardt, the French theatre’s star of the Belle Époque – in 1894. Fresh out of the Académie Julian, Mucha was working as an illustrator for Parisian printer Lemercier, when Bernhard (aka ‘La Divine’) – came into his studio. She was in desperate need of somebody to design a poster for her new show Gismonda. It was Christmas Eve and the actress couldn’t chose a better occasion to ring the bell of Lemercier’s studio, when all artists – but Mucha - were home for Christmas. Being in the bureau just he, himself and his pencil, of course the young artist rose to the occasion and created his first poster. It was just the start of a fruitful six-year collaboration. Upon its release, Mucha’s interpretation of Bernhardt was the talk of the town and transformed Mucha’s life for the better.
For Sarah Bernhardt - who was at the centre of good life and Parisian theaters' shining star - he created posters, jewels, costumes and sets, helping to make her a planetary star, becoming himself a sort of "star".
All this advertising will make him one of the most sought after authors of applied art, advertising posters and illustrations.
Diadem creted by Alphonse Mucha for Sarah Bernhardt for 'La princesse lointaine' in 1895
As a renowned poster designer, and artist in general, new commissions came in from the luxury industry: Champenois, Moët & Chandon, Job, and Nestlé, capturing the essence of the Belle Époque spirit and expanding his unique style to paintings, jewelry, and interior design. He had an important influence on the development of decorative aesthetic Art Nouveau.
Tableware studies, 1902
The Seasons, 1900. From left to right: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.