Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)

Alphonse Maria Mucha was born in the township of Ivanice, Moravia (current vicinity of the Czech Republic). Despite the fact that his vocal skills permitted him to carry on his schooling through high school in the Moravian capital of Brno, sketching was his first love since the child years.

He worked at ornamental painting tasks in Moravia, mainly painting theatrical scenery. In 1879 he moved to Vienna to work for a respected Viennese theatrical design firm, even while informally furthering his artistic training. When a fire damaged his employer's company in 1881 he came back to Moravia, to try and do independent ornamental and portrait artwork.

Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov employed Mucha to beautify Hrusovany Emmahof Castle with wall art, and ended up being pleased enough that he decided to sponsor Mucha's official instruction at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.

Mucha moved to Paris in 1887, and extended his studies at Academie Julian and Academie Colarossi. Along with his studies, he proved helpful at creating magazine and advertising drawings.

Close to Christmas 1894, Mucha happened to go into a print store in which there seemed to be a immediate and surprising requirement for a new advertising poster for a play starring Sarah Bernhardt, one of the most renowned actress in Paris, at the Theatre de la Renaissance on the Boulevard Saint-Martin. Mucha volunteered to create a lithographed poster within just a fortnight, and on 1 January 1895, the ad for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou appeared on the avenues of the metropolis. It was an instantaneous sensation and launched the new artistic fashion and its inventor to the people of Paris. Bernhardt was so pleased with the success of this very first poster that she moved into into a six year agreement with Mucha.

Mucha developed many different kinds of prints, posters, ads, and book drawings, in addition to patterns for jewelry, rugs, wallpaper, and theater sets in that which was initially known as the Mucha Style but grew to become known as Art Nouveau.

Mucha's works often featured gorgeous, sturdy women in sweeping vaguely Neoclassical looking robes, frequently flanked by luxurious plants that at times formed haloes behind the girls heads. As opposed with modern poster producers he used soft pale colorings.

The 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris distributed the "Mucha style" worldwide, of which Mucha said "I think [the Exposition Universelle made some contribution toward bringing aesthetic values into arts and crafts." He ornamented the Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavilion and collaborated in the Austrian Pavilion. His Art Nouveau style ended up being regularly imitated.

The Art Nouveau fashion nevertheless, was one which Mucha tried to distance himself from during his life; he often was adamant that instead of sticking with any trendy stylistic pattern, his work came solely from inside and Czech art.

He announced that art endured simply to convey a spiritual message, and nothing more; therefore his disappointment with the popularity he acquired via commercial artwork, when he most wished to focus on more substantial work which would ennoble art and his birth place.

Alphonse and his household went back to the Czech lands and settled in Prague, where he ornamented the Theater of Fine Arts, offered his time and skill to produce the wall art in the Mayor's Office at the Municipal House, and other sites throughout the city. When Czechoslovakia won its freedom after World War I, Mucha created the new postage stamps, banknotes, along with other state documents for the new state.