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Alfons Mucha

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Alfons Maria Mucha was born on July 24, 1860 in Iwanczyce, died on July 14, 1939 in Prague) - he is a world-famous Czech graphic artist and painter, one of the leading representatives of Art Nouveau and Fin de siècle. The artist's hallmark are graphics depicting women in the style of belle époque, not avoiding references to the Byzantine art. Most often these are idealized portraits of beautiful women surrounded by floral and leaf motifs, as well as symbols and arabesques.

Alfons Mucha started his education in junior high school in 1871. Before graduating, however, he was forced to return to his hometown and take the position of a Court Writer (his father was a court clerk). In the same casa, the young artist was involved in the preparation of theatrical performances, painting theatrical decorations, and creating posters. From this time comes one of Mucha's more famous work - pastel-colored Joanna d'Arc at the stake.

A few years later, the artist tried to get to the Prague Academy, to no avail. He went to Vienna, where he worked in a very famous theater design studio called Burghardt-Kautsky-Brioschi. In Mikulów, on the other hand, at the request of Count Karl Khuen-Belassiho, he renovated his collection, he also created painted paintings: portraits, landscapes and frescoes. Thanks to the patronage he obtained (the count's brother was fascinated by his work and decided to help him), in the years 1885–1886 he began education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In the following years he went to the French capital and joined the Julian Academy in Paris.

He decided to settle in the capital of France, in which impressionism flourished at that time, it was also the beginning of symbolism and decadence. Alfons Mucha shared the studio with Gauguin until the latter left for the Caribbean. At this time, the Czech artist began to create a unique drawing style. In 1892, together with Georges Rochergrosse, he was commissioned to make illustrations for Seignobos' Scènes et èpisodes de l'histoire l'Allemagne.

At the end of 1894, the artist received an express order for a theater poster for the spectacle of Gismond Victorien Sardou. This commission brought him great fame and success. At 35, Mucha became famous as one of the greatest Art Nouveau artists in the world.

Since then, the artist has been involved in graphic design: he created posters, calendars, magazine covers. He illustrated the most popular magazines and created a series of graphics used for postcards and the so-called panneaux décoratifs, or paintings printed on silk, very popular with collectors. Together with James Whistler, he founded the small school of painting Carmen.

From 1901, he was responsible for posters, decorations and costumes for Bernhardt at the Theater de la Renaissance. He also published a collection of designs for his ornaments along with proposals for their use. In 1909 he was chosen to make frescoes in Prague Obecní dum (Municipal House in Prague).

After 1910, Alfons Mucha began his series "Slavic Epic", presenting the history of the Slavs. The project was financed by a rich investor from Chicago. The project, which was to take the artist 5-6 years, lasted eighteen finally. On September 1, 1928, he offered finished works to the city of Prague, but in the Czech Republic his cycle was recognized as reactionary academicism and nationalistic interpretation. In the US, on the other hand, the works were received very enthusiastically. A series of canvases were exhibited in Moravský Krumlov. They can be seen in the National Gallery in Prague today.

Alfons Mucha returned to his country in 1913. After the outbreak of World War I, the artist did not interrupt his work, began to design jewelry and sculptures, and illustrations for American magazines.
He became the founder of the American Slavic Community. He was the author of the Czechoslovak state emblem and the first stamps and banknotes.

In 1931 Mucha created a stained glass window for the new archbishop's chapel in the Prague cathedral of St. Wit. In 1938 he began working on the triptych Age of Reason, Age of Wisdom and Age of Love. Unfortunately, the artist died before he finished his work, devastated after the German army entered his city - after being questioned by the Gestapo, at the age of 79.


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