Mucha…. Ado About Something…
Not quite the same Shakespeare title, but there is certainly a lot of romance, playfulness and teasing, rather like Much Ado About Nothing, in many of the paintings, illustrations, advertisements and postcards drawn by the artist Alphonse Mucha over his long career.
Born in 1860 in Moravia, now known as the Czech Republic, Mucha (pronounced Mooka) was a prolific artist of the internationally acclaimed Art Nouveau movement, with his artwork encompassing amongst others, beautiful theatrical and advertising posters. In 1894, Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris at the time, began what would be a six-year contract with Mucha, with him designing posters for her plays.
I have loved the dreamy quality of Mucha’s work for many years and as a rather distracted and dreamy sixteen year old, back in 1975, I was given some birthday money and with this I was able to go to a local trendy ever so slightly Bohemian art shop, where I had deliberated, on quite a few previous visits, over which Mucha decorative panel I was going to buy. I chose ‘Nights Rest’ from The Times of The Day Series (1899) and still love to daydream away looking at it to this day!
Admittedly it wasn’t the ‘real thing’, but for me this artwork was real enough, and my very first piece of Mucha art. I loved the soft pastel colours, the ‘looking through the window’ design, the flowers surrounding the wistful looking woman, the tall cypress trees in the background and the general serenity of this picture.
On a recent, excitement filled, visit to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, a special exhibition of the artist’s work was on display and I was able to fulfil a dream of seeing many pieces of the artwork Mucha did in his life.
Flowers, blossoms, trees and birds feature heavily in a lot of Mucha’s pieces and his love of women and nature are very apparent. The Seasons (1896) are a series of decorative panels with beautiful women showing the harmonious cycles of nature featuring white blossoms for springtime, red poppies for summer, chrysanthemums to symbolise autumn and for winter, a snowy scene with a small bird huddled under a cloak.
Alphonse Mucha died in 1939 at the age of 79, having returned to his home for the latter half of his life and undertaking twenty huge paintings of the Slav people and their history.
All I need to do now is book a long weekend to visit Prague to visit the Mucha Museum and see more of this artist’s wonderful work. Can’t wait!
P.S. - It may have to wait until we have finished our busy season here at the nursery though.