What Is Art Nouveau?
"Flirt" was not only the name of one of the biscuits sold by the firm Lefevre-Utile, but also the theme of Mucha's design. You may be familiar with these schoolboy LU cookies they still sell at the grocery. The romantic couple engages in a flirtatious encounter in a setting of Victorian elegance. Just to remind us that this is not an illustration in a bodice-ripping novel but a poster, the demure young lady's dress is faintly decorated with the initials LU, and the company's full name appears on a wrought-iron grille behind them. Other than that, however, there is no blatant intrusion of the company, which always conducted its advertising campaigns with understatement and good taste.
Signature: Signed by the artist in stone, lower right hand corner.
Alphonse Mucha is synonymous with Art Nouveau, a style of fine art, decorative art, and architecture that broke with the academicism of the 19th century in favor of florid lines inspired by the natural environment. A lithographed advertising poster he was commissioned to create for a play featuring the celebrated actress Sarah Bernhardt in 1894 catapulted him out of obscurity and brought him instant success as a commercial artist. Rendered in pale pastels, much of his work depicts beautiful young women draped in Neoclassical robes set amidst flowers, feathers, and other sensuous natural forms. He was celebrated not only for illustrating advertising posters, but also for painting, book illustrations, sculpting, and designing theater sets, jewelry, and wallpaper.
Czech, 1860-1939, Ivančice, Czech Republic, based in Paris, France