Alphonse Mucha – part 1

1890s Self-portrait in a Russian shirt 'rubashka' in the studio at Rue de la Grande Chaumière, Paris © Mucha Trust
 A lot of work to get through here, this is going to be 12-part post, so I hope some of you at least like his work or are happy to see a large cross-section of his output. Because of the size I’ll put a new post up each day.


Biographical facts on Mucha sourced from Wikipedia:
Alphonse (Alfons) Mucha (1860 – 1939) was a Czech painter and decorative artist born in 1860 born in the town of Ivančice, Moravia. He is best known for his luxurious poster and product designs, which encapsulate the Art Nouveau style. Contemporary interest in his work was revived in 1980 after an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Mucha attended high school in the Moravian capital of Brünn (Brno), after which he worked at decorative painting jobs in Moravia, mostly painting theatrical scenery. In 1879 he moved to Vienna to work for a leading Viennese theatrical design company, while informally furthering his artistic education. In 1881 he returned to Moravia, to do freelance decorative and portrait painting. Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov hired Mucha to decorate Hrušovany Emmahof Castle with murals, and was impressed enough to agree to sponsor Mucha's formal training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.
He moved to Paris in 1887 and continued his studies at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi. In addition to his studies, he worked at producing magazine and advertising illustrations. Around Christmas 1894, Mucha happened to drop into a print shop where there was a sudden and unexpected need for a new advertising poster for a play starring Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris, at the Théâtre de la Renaissance on the Boulevard Saint-Martin. Mucha volunteered to produce a lithographed poster within two weeks, and on 1 January 1895, the advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou appeared on the streets of the city. It was an overnight sensation and announced the new artistic style and its creator to the citizens of Paris. Bernhardt was so satisfied with the success of this first poster that she entered into a 6 year contract with Mucha.


1894 Poster for Victorien Sardou's Gismonda starring Sarah Bernhardt at the Théâtre de la Renaissance, Paris 210 x 74.2 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris
In contrast with contemporary poster makers he used pale pastel colours. The 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris spread the "Mucha style" internationally, of which Mucha said "I think the Exposition Universelle made some contribution toward bringing aesthetic values into arts and crafts." He decorated the Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavilion and collaborated in the Austrian Pavilion.

Mucha married Maria Chytilová in 1906. The couple visited the U.S. from 1906 to 1910, during which time their daughter, Jaroslava, was born in New York City. They also had a son, Jiri (1915 - 1991). In America Mucha expected to earn money to fund his nationalistic projects to demonstrate to Czechs that he had not "sold out". He was supported by millionaire Charles R. Crane, who used his fortune to help promote revolutions and, after meeting Thomas Masaryk, Slavic nationalism.

Mucha and his family returned to Europe and settled in Prague, where he decorated the Theatre of Fine Arts, created the murals in the Mayor's Office at the Municipal House, and other landmarks around the city. When Czechoslovakia won its independence after World War I, Mucha designed the new postage stamps, banknotes, and other government documents for the new state (some examples to come in a later post).

The rising tide of fascism in the late 1930s led to Mucha's works, as well as his Slavic nationalism, being denounced in the press as 'reactionary'. When German troops marched into Czechoslovakia in 1939, Mucha was among the first people to be arrested by the Gestapo. During the course of his interrogation, the aging artist fell ill with pneumonia. Though eventually released, he never recovered from the strain of this event, or from seeing his homeland invaded and overcome. He died in Prague on July 14 1939, of a lung infection.

At the time of his death, Mucha's style was considered outdated. His son, author Jiri Mucha, devoted much of his life to writing about him and bringing attention to his art. In his own country, the new authorities were not interested in Mucha. His Slav Epic was rolled and stored for twenty-five years before being shown in Moravsky Krumlov and only recently has a Mucha museum appeared in Prague, run by his grandson, John Mucha.

This is part 1 of a 12-part post on the works of Alphonse Mucha. Part 2 tomorrow.
 
 
c1891 Cover of 'Contes d'Amor' for publisher Armand Colin © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

 
In 1892 Mucha began giving drawing lessons in his studio. These classes, which become known as ‘Cours Mucha’ were so successful that he was later asked to teach at the Académie Colarossi. From 1898, he also ran a drawing course at James McNeill Whistler’s Académie Carmen. 

1892 Poster for 'Cours Mucha' at the Académie Colarossi, Paris © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1894 Spirit of Spring oil on canvas 66 x 41 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1895 Calendar for Vieillemard printing company 'The Judgement of Paris' lithograph 82.5 x 50 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1895 Poster for Luchon la Reine des Pyrénées Casino and Spa lithograph © Alphonse Mucha Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

1895 Poster for Amants - Comdie de M. Donnay at the Theatre de la Renaissance, Paris © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'Figaro Illustré' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'L'illustration' cover © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'L'illustration' page © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'Chocolat Masson' calendar © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'Chocolat Masson' calendar January - March © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'Chocolat Masson' calendar April - June © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'Chocolat Masson' calendar July -September © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'Chocolat Masson' calendar October - December © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896-97 'Four Seasons' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896-1897 'Four Seasons' Winter © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896-97 'Four Seasons' Spring © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Cover of 'L'Image No.1' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Cover of 'Le Gaulois' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 'Four Seasons' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Four Seasons 'Spring' oil on panel © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Four Seasons 'Summer' oil on panel © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Four Seasons 'Autumn' oil on panel © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Four Seasons 'Winter' oil on panel © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for 'Cassan Fils' lithograph with gilt highlights 57.5 x 37.5 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for 'Champagne Ruinart' lithograph © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for 'Job' Cigarette Paper lithograph 66.7 x 46.4 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for 'La Dame aux Camélias' lithograph 207.3 x 76.2 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for 'the XXth Salon des Cent, Paris' study, ink on paper 50 x 41.5 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for 'the XXth Salon des Cent, Paris' study watercolour & gouache 60 x 40 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for 'the XXth Salon des Cent, Paris' lithograph 64 x 43 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for Biscuits Champagne Lefèvre Utile lithograph 62 x 43.5 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for Biscuits Champagne Lefèvre Utile lithograph 52 x 35.5 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for Lance Parfum "Rodo" lithograph 44.5 x 32 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Poster for Lorenzaccio at the Theatre de la Renaissance, Paris lithograph 203.7 x 73 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Prophetess tempera on canvas 87 x 138 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Salammbô lithograph © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1895 - 1917 Whitman's Chocolates and Confections, Philadelphia © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1896 Zodiaque 'La Plume' lithograph 63 x 47 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 Poster for Savonnerie de Bagnolet soap manufacturer lithography 51.5 x 37 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

c1896 Easter Chimes Awaken Nature oil on canvas © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 'Melancholy' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 'Manhood' Chocolat Masson calendar 29.9 x 21.5 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris
 
1897 'Fruit and Flower' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris


1897 'Fruit' lithograph 66.2 x 44.4 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 'Flower' lithograph 66.2 x 44.4 cm © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 'Byzantine Head' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 'Byzantine Head - The Brunette' lithograph © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 'Byzantine Head - The Blonde' lithograph © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris


1897 Calendar 'Champagne' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris



1897 Cover of 'Le Monde Moderne' © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

1897 Cover for 'Au Quartier Latin' lithograph © Alphonse Mucha Estate-Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York-ADAGP, Paris

Comments