Alphonse Macharia Mucha was a decorative artist and painter from Czech Republic. He is famous for his distinct style in art. He came up with many designs, postcards, advertisements, illustrations, and paintings. He mostly painted theatrical scenery. His works of art were previously known as The Mucha style but later on became Art Nouveau meaning new art in French. Most of Mucha’s art works featured young women, classic robes, with lavish flowers surrounding them. In most of his works, Mucha made use of pale pastel colours. Mucha used most of his art works to express himself. He even stated that art existed for the sole purpose of communicating spiritual messages.
One of Mucha’s famous pieces of art is Gismonda. It is a poster he did in 1894. Gismonda, Victorien Sardou, was a play that premiered in 1894. It was performed in the theatre of Renaissance in Paris. Sarah Bernhardt was the main actor of the play, and she also directed it. The poster Gismonda by Mucha was made to promote the play which was officially played for the public on 4th January 1895. In this portrait, Mucha depicted Bernardt as a glamorous noblewoman. She was dressed in a fine gown and had an orchid headdress. On her arm, she held a palm branch. The costume painted by Mucha in the poster was worn in the last scene of the play. It was at the climax when Bernardt joined the Easter parade. In this poster, Mucha brought out the beauty and dignity of Bernardt, which was her character on stage. This poster is a masterpiece. It was long and narrow in shape and was made of subtle pastel colours. It clearly brought out the divine nature of the actress. Sarah Bernhardt loved Mucha’s work and used the poster to advertise herself plays in her tour, in America.
Another great piece of art by Mucha is Medee. This poster to, like Gismonda, was done for Sarah Bernahrdt. Mucha did this poster to display the stage presence of Bernhardt in her famous Greek play Medee. The play was directed by Catulle Mendes. It was made for the residence of Paris. It is the story of a lady, Medea, who comes to know of her husband’s, Jackson, infidelity and terminates the life of her two children. In the poster, Mucha embodies the concept of tragedy by the shocked wide-eyed expression of the actress. The landscape in the background has been made to display the influence of modern fashion. The poster heightens the exceptional atmosphere of the breathtaking play. On the poster, Medea has worn a snake bracelet to symbolize he evil nature. This poster is long and narrow in shape and has been done using subtle pastel colours. It clearly depicts the theme of conflict and revenge. Is also shows the evil nature of the main character, Mede, as she holds a knife and has a snake bracelet. From the poster, the viewers get the sombre mood as two lifeless children lie at the feet of a woman.
In 1899, Alphonse Muche did another piece for Sara Bernhardt. It was entitled Hamlet. It was a poster for Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. In this play,
Sarah Bernhardt played the role of a male hero. In the poster, Mucha stresses gives emphasis on Hamlet’s relationship with the ghost of his death father who had been murdered. The figure of the ghost looms at the back of the poster. In the play, Hamlet was obsessed with death and this, in the poster, is represented by the by a downed Ophelia, who lies at the bottom of the poster and is decorated with flowers. Ophelia is in a coffin like box at the feet of Hamlet. Hamlet was the last poster Mucha created for Sarah.
Mucha, in Czech Republic, was a decorative painter who mostly did theoretical sceneries. In 1879, he worked for a company known as Viennese theoretical designs. At that time, he was enhancing his artistic skills informally. He later got a scholarship and furthered his studies at Munich Academy of Fine Arts. In 1887, he shifted to Paris and enhanced his studies at Julian and Colarossi academies. In 1895, Mucha volunteered to make lithographed posters for actor Sarah Bernhardt. She was pleased with his work and gave him a six year contract as a poster designer for her. He also did advertising materials such as calendars and lithographs. Apart from graphic arts, he designed furniture, texture, bronze work, and jewellery. In most of his paintings, Mucha used Litho crayon on plates and canvas. While working with Bernhardt, Mucha designed her costumes which she wore while performing her plays.
Mucha’s style can be described as unique. He used elements of the art nouveau. In his art works, he made use of bycantine elements to decorate. He also used soft and tender colours. All his paintings were done with the image of a young woman at the middle. The ladies had long hair and were in different costumes. These characteristics of his works can be attributed to his partnership with Sarah Bernhardt. Bernhardt played an important role in Mucha’s professional life. After Mucha received training, he was given the opportunity to practice art as a profession by Bernhardt. He did posters to advertise her plays. Therefore, Mucha’s style of having a lady as the central item of his paintings can be as a result of doing poster paintings for Bernhardt.
Mucha used soft colours for his paintings. He believed art is a medium of expressing spiritual feelings. From these images, we can get the notion that Mucha portrayed women as delicate species of the human race. In most of his paintings, he used flowers around the ladies he painted to show that they are beautiful creatures to. Mucha did most of his art works for the purpose of advertisement. While working with Bernhardt, he did posters to advertise her plays. In France, his artworks were seen on calendars and advertisement banners. From this, we can deduce that Mucha did his art works for commercial purposes.
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