Alfons Mucha (1860 – 1939)
Alfons Mucha’s images are known throughout the world, whether they are images of Art Nouveau maidens with soft eyes and wind swept hair sitting in sweet contemplation in their idealyic surroundings symbolizing the four seasons, the twelve months, and Czech nationalism, or posters with pretty Art Nouveau ladies advertising Job Rolling Papers. Mucha became famous in the city of Paris thanks to the posters he created for Job Rolling Papers; these posters intrigued the great Sarah Berhardt, who asked him to create posters for her, which in turn made him famous overnight. One of the Czech founders of the Art Nouveau movement, Mucha believed that art should work in harmony to create a total work of art in buildings, furniture, textiles, clothes, jewelry and visual arts; all should conform to the principles of Art Nouveau and art should strive to be a part of everyday life. The Art Nouveau movement was characterized by flower and leaf motifs with soft dreamy looking maidens and new modern production methods, methods which tried to erase the fine line between fine and applied arts, or the classical and the modern, hence the name New Art. Mucha created images that the rich and the poor could both afford and so his name and his works were spread around the world. On an interesting side note, Mucha was the founder of Czech Freemasonry.