Works by Alfonse Mucha at Sotheby's
Alfonse Mucha Biography
Born in a small town in Moravia (now part of the Czech Republic), Alfonse Mucha (1860–1939) became synonymous with Art Nouveau, producing work that featured curvaceous young women in flowing robes, often surrounded by flowers and refined decorative elements.
As Mucha has begun working as decorative painter mostly in the theater, a local count hired him to paint murals for his castle. He was so impressed that he sponsored Mucha to attend the Munich Academy of Fine Art. In 1887, the artist moved to Paris, where he continued his formal art studies while producing magazine illustrations and advertising. In 1895, his poster for a play starring Sarah Bernhardt, the greatest actress ofthe day, was an overnight sensation; Bernhardt put the artist on a five-year contract, during which he designed her poster, stage sets and costumes. With such visibility, other commissions flowed, and Mucha created posters, calendars and lithographs as well as designs for jewelry, textiles, bronze works and furniture. In 1899, he produced Le Pater,an occult exploration of the Lord’s Prayer.
After marrying in 1906 and visiting the U.S. until 1910., Mucha settled in Prague, where he spent many years working on what he considered his fine art masterpiece, The Slav Epic,a series of 20 momumental paintings that he bestowed to the city in 1928. He designed the windows for Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral in the early 1930s. When German troops moved into Prague in spring 1939, the artist’s slavic nationalism and Jewish roots made him a prime target of the Gestapo. He was arrested and fell ill with pneumonia during his interrogation. He died a few months after his release.