Alphonse Mucha, ‘La Dame aux Camélias.’, 1896, Rennert’s Gallery

Alexander Dumas, fils, wrote a semi-autobiographical novel based upon his love affair with a courtesan. She would wear a white camelia in her hair when available for love; a red camelia when indisposed. Verdi adapted it for the opera under the name "La Traviata"; Dumas himself adapted it for the stage, and it became a tour de force for Sarah Bernhardt. "Mucha’s ability to characterize the substance of the play for which he created this poster, as well as his ability to express the most beautiful features of Sarah’s personality, was brought to perfection in this poster” (Mucha/Art Nouveau, p. 146). Note the metallic silver in the stars, which gleam and twinkle in the light. On auction June 26: contact Rennert's Gallery 212-787-4000, go to rennertsgallery.com or email info@posterauctions.com.

Publisher: Imp. F. Champenois, Paris

About Alphonse Mucha

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