Artist profile: Mucha – Theatre & advertisements

Every month, I profile an artist who inspires my own art,
in several segments.


As we learned last week, Alphonse Mucha first came to national renown through his poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s play Gismonda, the commission of which he happened upon by chance.

Gismonda (1895)
Poster for Gismonda (1895)

He made several more posters for “La Divine Sarah”, as well as designing jewelry and costumes for her theatre productions.
Lorenzaccio (1896)
Poster for Lorenzaccio (1896)

Study of Bernhardt for Lorenzaccio poster (1896)
Study of Bernhardt for Lorenzaccio poster (1896)

On this last one, we can see the halo that would become so ubiquitous in Mucha’s work.
Samaritaine (1899)
Samaritaine (1899)

Mucha also became well-known for his stunning art for advertisements. Very few of them had people wearing contemporary (Edwardian) clothing; most wear what resembles classic Greek dress.

Nestle's food for infants (1897)
Ad for Nestle’s food for infants (1897)

Notice how he made a halo effect with the “O” in the ad below. This poster is also a good demonstration of Mucha’s preference for thick outlines.
Ad for JOB cigarette paper (1896)
Ad for JOB cigarette paper (1896)

Poster for Société Populaire des Beaux Arts (1897)
Poster for Société Populaire des Beaux Arts (1897)

The poster above was to advertise for an early arts-advocacy group in Paris. The society presented lectures and showed artworks to the public using the new technology of slide projection. The woman, who I assume represents Art, leans on a projector and holds glass slides in her lap.
Ad for Moët & Chandon's Dry Imperial champagne (1899)
Ad for Moët & Chandon’s Dry Imperial champagne (1899)

This last poster was part of a pair; the other ad was for White Star champagne. In both, Mucha strove to represent the beverage in the form of a woman – personifying it. But only someone who’s tasted these drinks could tell us if he succeeded!

This picture is also a great transition to next week’s post about Mucha’s art posters, which feature similarly sensuous ladies.

Other parts in the Alphonse Mucha artist profile series
Art Posters
3D works
The Slav Epic



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