Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860-1939)
Alphonse Maria Mucha is most often remembered for the prominent role he played in shaping the aesthetics of French Art Nouveau at the turn of the century. As a struggling and relatively unknown artist of Czech origin living in Paris, Alphonse Maria Mucha achieved immediate fame when, in December 1894, he accepted a commission to create a poster for one of the greatest actresses of this time, Sarah Bernhardt. Though the printer was apprehensive about submitting Mucha´s final design because of its new unconventional style, Bernhardt loved it and so did the public. ´Le style Mucha´, as Art Nouveau was known in its earliest days, was born. The success of that first poster brought a 6 years contract between Bernhardt and Mucha and in the following years his work for her and others included costumes and stage decorations, designs for magazines and book covers, jewellery and furniture and numerous posters. Alphonse Maria Mucha returned to Czechoslovakia in 1910, where he dedicated the remainder of his life to the production of a an epic series of 20 paintings depicting the history of the Slav people, the Slav Epic.
Alphonse Maria Mucha
1860 Born in Ivan?ice in Southern Moravia on 24th July.
1879 Goes to Vienna to work as a theatrical scene painter.
1883 Invited by Count Khuen-Belassi to decorate his castle at Emmahof in Austria.
1885 Begins studies at the Münich Academy of Arts, sponsored by Count Khuen-Belassi.
1887 Moves to Paris to study at the Académie Julian.
1892 Commissioned to illustrate “Scenés et épisodes de l’histoire d’Allemagne” by Charles Seignobos.
1894 Designs his first poster for Sarah Bernhardt, Gismonda, a play by Victor Sardou. This success leads to a six year contract with “la divine Sarah”.
1896 Mucha’s first decorative panels “The Four Seasons” are printed.
1897 February: first one man exhibition at the Bodiniére Gallery, Paris, showing 107 works, followed in May by the Salon des Cent’s Mucha exhibition, which shows 448 works.
1899 Receives commission from the Austro-Hungarien Government for the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition.
1900 Begins to work on designs for Georges Fouquet’s jewellery shop, one of the outstanding Art Nouveau interiors.
1902 Publishes “Documents Décoratifs”, a hand book for craftsmen.
1905 “Figures Décoratives” is published.
1906 Mucha moves to America, where he teaches and paints many oil portraits.
1910 Returns to Prague to work on the “Slav Epic”.
1911 Completes the murals for the Prague Town Hall (Obecní d?m), the last major interior decoration in the Art Nouveau style in Prague.
1918 The independent state of Czechoslovakia is created. Mucha designs postage stamps and bank notes.
1921 Successful exhibition of Mucha’s work at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
1928 The complete cycle of the “Slav Epic” is officially presented to the Czech people and the City of Prague.
1931 Commissioned to design a stained glass window for the St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague.
1939 Mucha is among the first to be arrested by the Gestapo when the Germans invade Czechoslovakia. He is allowed to return home but his health is impaired by the ordeal.
14. July, Mucha dies in Prague and is buried at Vyšehrad cemetery.