Autumn from "The Seasons (series)", 1896
Oil on Panel
About the Art
This was Mucha’s first set of decorative panels and it became one of his most popular series. It was so popular that Mucha was asked by Champenois to produce at least two more sets based on the same theme in 1897 and 1900. Designs for a further two sets also exist.
The idea of personifying the seasons was nothing new – examples could be found in the works of the Old Masters’ as well as in Champenois’s other publications. However, Mucha’s nymph-like women set against the seasonal views of the countryside breathed new life into the classic theme. In the four panels shown here, Mucha captures the moods of the seasons – innocent Spring, sultry Summer, fruitful Autumn and frosty Winter, and together they represent the harmonious cycle of Nature. (Mucha Foundation: “The Seasons (series)”)
Mucha used lithography as the printing technique for his posters. The posters are usually signed in the block. Some of his posters were produced as sets like The Four Seasons. Complete sets count among the most searched for of his works.
About the Artist
Alfons Maria Mucha was born in Ivancice, a small provincial town in the Czech Republic. He started his artistic in stage decorations and decorative paintings. He studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts from 1885 until 1887.After Munich, Mucha moved to the "mecca" of arts, Paris. Here he studied with different teachers and worked on small commissions for book and newspaper illustrations.
In December 1894 Mucha became famous with a commission for a poster for the actress Sarah Bernard. Sarah Bernard was a celebrity of her time. He received an exclusive six year contract by the actress not only designing all her posters, but her theater decorations and costumes as well. From now on the artist was swamped with commissions for all kind of commercial print advertising.
During the course of the next 10 years, Mucha became one of the most popular and successful of Parisian artists. Commissions flooded in - for theatre posters, advertising posters, decorative panels, magazine covers, menus, postcards, calendars. Mucha's designs for jewellery, cutlery, tableware, fabrics etc were in so much demand that he conceived the idea of creating a 'handbook for craftsmen', which would offer all the necessary patterns for creating an Art Nouveau lifestyle.
Between 1904 and 1921 Mucha traveled frequently to the United States, during this time he married and had a daughter. Mucha returned to Bohemia in 1910. He spent a large part of the remainder of his life creating the 20 paintings which make up the Slav Epic. These monumental paintings, some of which measure as much as 6 by 8 metres, celebrate more than a thousand years of Slav history, divided between specifically Czech themes and those of other Slav peoples. The canvases were completed between 1912 and 1926 and in 1928 Mucha and Charles Crane officially presented the Slav Epic as a gift to the City of Prague.
In 1939 the German Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia. The popularity of the artist made him a number one target for the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police. He was arrested, interrogated and realeased. Shortly afterwards, Alphonse Maria Mucha died on July 14, 1939 in Prague. His Slav Epic paintings were hidden away at the beginning of the war and lost to the art world until 1968 when they were placed on permanent exhibition in the castle of Moravsky Krumlo.
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