Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) – Moravian decorator and painter

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Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) was a Moravian decorator, painter, and graphic artist. Mucha is well known in the 1890s and early 1900s for his Art Nouveau posters, particularly Sarah Bernhardt’s. Mucha first designed stage sets in Vienna; he moved to Munich in 1885 and Paris in 1887.

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Biography

He produced wall decorations for the country estate of Schloss Emmahof, near Grussbach (now Hrusovany, Czech Republic, of Count Khuen-Belasi).

Poster & journal illustration

He became involved in book and journal illustration and produced his first lithographs with Lemercier, Paris. With lithographer Champenois, he combined his artistry with the printer’s business expertise. He experimented with screen designs c1885-88 when he made a three-panel painted screen for Count Khuen-Belasi. 

He was best known for his poster designs for Sarah Bernhardt, of which the first example was printed in 1894. Most of his work was distinguished by the fluid lines and bi-dimensional organic shapes, almost making the term ‘Mucha style’ synonymous with Art Nouveau.

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Works

Georges Fouquet produced the jewellery Mucha designed for Bernhardt. 

He designed the interior of Fouquet’s shop, 6 rue Royale, Paris. 

He designed furnishings, room settings, and objects that attempted to relate Art Nouveau motifs to interior design’s three-dimensionality. In 1904, he collaborated on jewellery designs with Louis C. Tiffany making four trips from 1903-22. He sponsored the 20-painting series Slav Epic. He was successful in the USA, where industrialist Charles Richard Crane was a Slavophile resident of Chicago. 

Returning in 1922 to Czechoslovakia, his designs included postage stamps and banknotes. 

Designs, including jewellery, were published in the 1902 pattern book Documents Decoratifs—work subject of 1980 exhibition, Grand Palais, Paris.

Recognition

Mucha’s reputation was further enhanced by a travelling exhibition of his posters, which originated in Paris in 1897, before travelling to Prague, Brussels, Munich, London, and New York.

In 1897, he opened his design school, where he taught until 1904 when he was commissioned to design the Bosnia-Herzegovina Pavilion at the Paris Exposition Universelle. In 1900 he also exhibited scented bottles, jewellery and carpet design.

Summary of work

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Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Woodham, J. Mucha, Alphonse. In A Dictionary of Modern Design. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 Jan. 2021, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/view/10.1093/acref/9780191762963.001.0001/acref-9780191762963-e-561

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