What Is Art Nouveau?
“Mucha went all out with a most opulent design. The shy maiden, kneeling, enraptured with the tranquility of the bay of Monte Carlo, is completely encircled by the curving stalks of lilacs and hydrangeas, featuring some of the most intricate conflorescences ever painted by Mucha. Since the client was a railroad – Chemin de Fer P.L.M. – it is probable that the design is meant to suggest the tracks and wheels that convey the public to Monte Carlo. The maiden is probably Spring herself, enraptured with the beauty of the seascape” (Rennert/Weill, p. 136). This is the variant with the railroad information printed in the lower right. On auction June 26: contact Rennert's Gallery 212-787-4000, go to rennertsgallery.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publisher: Imp. F. Champenois, Paris
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