"Flower" by Alphonse Mucha in 1897, Color Lithograph.
Alphonse Mucha was a Czech Art Nouveau artist. His first name is drawn from the Czech name Alfons.
He became an overnight sensation with his beautiful art poster ad for Sarah Bernhardt, a famous Paris actress of the time, who was appearing in a play at the Théâtre de la Renaissance on the Boulevard Saint-Martin. Mucha just happened to be in the print shop at the time when the need arrived for this advertisement. Mucha volunteered to prepare it in two weeks. On January 1, 1895, the advertisement for the play "Gismonda" by Victorien Sardou appeared on the streets of the city. It was an overnight sensation and announced it's creator and artistic style to the citizens of Paris. Sarah Bernhardt was so happy with the poster ad she made a six year contract with him to make more of them!
At first, his art was called "The Mucha Style" but later called "Art Nouveau" which means "new art". He did designs for jewelry, wallpaper, carpets, and theatre sets. His work became so well loved it was often imitated.
Mucha didn't want to be associated with the world of "commercial art" and this Art Nouveau style. He had a more lofty idea in his head that his art came purely from within himself and his Czech heritage. His desire was to attribute it to his Czech homeland. He was frustrated that people decided his art was a stylistic branding when he wanted it to be more spiritualistic.
Later in his life he made paintings devoted to the history of the Czech and Slavic people. He had always dreamed of making a series of art devoted to this celebration of Slavic history. This series is called The Slavic Epic and he dedicated it to the City of Prague.
In his older years, in 1939, the German troops took over Prague and arrested him. He took ill with pneumonia during their interrogation of him. Later they released him but he was never the same after that. He died in July 1939 and was buried in Prague.
His beautiful art has been loved throughout the years after his death. Off and on, through the years, it has become a trend in artistic styles to mimic the Mucha style and techniques, including comic book illustrations, Japanese manga artistry, and the psychedelic art of the sixties.