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Much About Mucha

Anyone who is unfamiliar with the name Alphonse Mucha is likely familiar with the art of this Art Noveau artist. Sarah Bernhardt was so taken by his art that she commissioned him to create posters for her performance. (Image: Poster for Job rolling papers.)

Mucha, a Czech painter, elevated graphic arts to fine arts. He was in high demand for creating ads for Moët & Chandon, Maggi, Nestle, Job rolling papers, various perfume brands, and more. Menus and calendars were adorned with his artwork. People sought out prints to hang in their home. Series of four prints were popular to depict such things as the seasons or precious jewels. His real passion was to capture the Slav people, which he did later in his career with his Slav Epic series. (Image: A Slav mother and child.)

He was so popular that many people copied him. I saw many imitations of his style. The Basilica of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, a neo-Gothic church in the Vyšehrad fortress of Prague, has a series of frescoes on its pillars in Mucha’s style. (Image: A pillar in the Basilica, an imitation of Mucha's style)

When I was in Prague I intended to go to the Mucha Museum. Before I managed to get there, I found more extensive exhibit. Former pro tennis player Czech-American Ivan Lendi’s obsession with Mucha led him to amass the most complete collection of Mucha’s posters in the world. The collection of more than 100 posters were on display at the Prague Municipal theater along with a stunning multimedia incarnation of his works. The exhibit has been touring around the world, even in the US, but I didn’t know about it until now. I hope it appears in California again. (Image: A rare painting from the exhibit, featuring Czech composers František Škroup, Gottfried Rieger, Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, Pavel Křížkovský, and Zdeněk Fibich.)

(Image: Moët & Chandon ad)

(Image: The Judgement of Paris.)

(Image: Mucha designed the stain glass window for St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague.)

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