What Is Art Nouveau?
Dimensions: image: 7 x 3 3/4 in. (17.8 x 9.5 cm), sheet: 9 1/4 x 6 3/8 in. (23.5 x 16.2 cm), with hand-done border: 14 x 10 5/8 in. (35.6 x 27 cm)
"We would like to thank the Mucha Foundation for their assistance with the authentication and cataloguing of this lot.
From the Catalogue:
The present lot is believed to be a study for the La Princesse Lointaine panel, produced for the foyer decoration at the Theatre Sarah Bernhardt Place du Châtelet, Paris, which was acquired by Sarah Bernhardt in 1899.
A reproduction in the Mucha Trust Collection shows the same image of Bernhardt, decorated with simple curving lines and a border motif featuring lily blossom. In the present lot, the decorative motifs in the background were possibly added by the printer's workshop to enhance Mucha's drawing of the central composition, Sarah Bernhardt as La Princesse Lointaine.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's
Signature: signed Mucha in pencil (lower right)
Charles Masson, "Mucha," Art et Décoration, January-June 1900, pp. 132-133 (for the final, executed design of the decorative panel)
Jiri Mucha, The Graphic Work of Alphonse Mucha, London, 1973, p. 103 (for the lithograph) Mucha 1860-1939, Peintures, Illustrations-affiches, arts décoratifs, exh. cat., Paris, 1980, p. 300 (for the oil on board of Sarah Bernhard en Princesse Lointaine*, 1903)
Katia Pissaro, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1988
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