A key figure in the Art Nouveau movement, Alphonse Mucha was a well-known painter of the 19th and 20th century. Mucha’s name has been associated with many paintings, illustrations, decorations, advertisements and postcards. His imaginative, thought provoking and passionate works are legendary and have inspired many artists to follow a similar path. Mucha is also one of those rare artists whose legacy has been kept alive by his family. There are numerous art galleries, streets and modules devoted to this extraordinary artist. In fact his family has kept his name alive by forming a Foundation under his name as well, it continues to support and highlight his work. The prolific Moravian painter came to resent his fame and concluded that true art is there to be seen and not heard. Mucha was quite a productive artist, his work included creating posters, book and magazine covers, painting on glass stained windows to doing theatre sets and costumes. There was truly nothing which Mucha couldn’t do.
Born as Alfons Maria Mucha in 1860 in Ivancice, a small town in Moravia into a very poor family. His father earned a modest living is a court usher and Mucha was raised in a strict Roman Catholic household. From an early age onwards, Mucha’s talent as an artist was evident, historians famously quote that Mucha could ‘draw before he could walk.’ His strict Roman Catholic upbringing is visible in some of his works which contain deep religious symbolism. After failing to get into art school Mucha started working as a helper in a court. However his artistic genius couldn’t be ignored as he was caught making drawings of defendants and court judges. It was only at the age of 19 when Mucha finally professionally started painting – he saw an advertisement for a painter for a theatre group. Since that age Mucha never looked back. Mucha’s big break as an artist was when he created a poster for a Sarah Bernhardt production titled Gismonda. His out-of-this world poster, which was almost ethereal in a sense got Mucha noticed instantly. The poster featured Sarah Bernhardt in an angelic pose; Mucha used soft light pastel colors to accentuate her features. What followed was a string of work for Mucha in the form of posters, postcards, and advertisements. Mucha’s work suddenly went global; his works were shown in Munich, Vienna, Paris, London, New York and Budapest. Much of Mucha’s work consisted of females as the main subject matter often dressed in long robes with halos in their hair. Apart from Gismonda, Mucha’s lithograph F. Champenios Imprimeur-Editeur is almost similar. The only difference is the focal color used, Mucha has worked with light yellow and red to highlight the females face and add an air around her.
Even though he lived in many cities, for Mucha Czechoslovakia would always remain home. Deeply patriotic and a die-hard Slav to the last core, Alphonse Mucha was always drawn home to do some of his works. He considered his masterpiece to be the The Slav Epic, which he spend many years making. It was a love story to his homeland in many ways. The work consists of 20 paintings, huge in size and all telling stories of the history of homeland and its people. The Foundation run by his family continues to keep his work and name alive, it’s a true tribute to a great artist whose work should always be shown to the new generation.