Alphonse Mucha Chromolithograph “Flower”, 1894

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Alphonse Mucha Chromolithograph “Flower”, 1894

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Alphonse Mucha Chromolithograph. After early education in Brno, Moravia, and work for a theatre scene-painting firm in Vienna, Mucha studied art in Prague, Munich, and Paris in the 1880s.

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Alphonse Mucha Chromolithograph. After early education in Brno, Moravia, andwork for a theatre scene-painting firm in Vienna, Mucha studied art in Prague, Munich, and Paris in the 1880s.

He first became prominent as the principal advertiser of the actress Sarah Bernhardt in Paris. He designed the posters for several theatrical productions featuring Bernhardt, beginning with Gismonda (1894), and he designed sets and costumes for her as well.

Mucha designed many other posters and magazine illustrations, becoming one of the foremost designers in the Art Nouveau style. His supple, fluent draftsmanship is used to great effect in his posters featuring women. His fascination with the sensuous aspects of female beauty—luxuriantly flowing strands of hair, heavy-lidded eyes, and full-lipped mouths—as well as his presentation of the female image as ornamental, reveal the influence of the English Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic on Mucha, particularly the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The sensuous bravura of the draftsmanship, particularly the use of twining, whiplash lines, imparts a strange refinement to his female figures. In his realistic book-illustration style, Mucha executed four nature scenes for a soft furnishings business in 1894: Flower, Fruit, Fishing and Hunting. They were offered for sale as inexpensive copies of original works and reproduced using a technique that imitated oil painting. Comparing Flower with Gismonda, one can see the abrupt change in style which Mucha's work underwent at the end of 1894.

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Dimensions 48.5 × 77 in