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Collection of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Alphonse Maria Mucha

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Born in Czechoslovakia, Mucha received his first formal training at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich from 1885-1887. His patron Count Karl Khuen-Belassi, then sent him to Paris where he worked as a magazine and book illustrator. Mucha established his reputation as an innovative designer with a series of nine lithograph posters commissioned by the actress Sarah Bernhardt along with two posters for Job cigarettes (1896 and 1898). In these works Mucha created a unique style depicting exotic, sensuous women with long tangled hair together with densely-packed Byzantine and Moravian folk art motifs and stylized plants and flowers. Mucha produced a number of designs for printed fabrics between 1897 and 1898. All the designs were handled by the Paris firm of C.G. Forrer. In addition to posters and textile designs Mucha executed designs for wallpaper, furniture, metalwork, flatware, glassware, lace and ornament all published in Documents Decorative par A.M. Mucha, Paris: Librarie Central des Beaux-Arts, 1901. Mucha was actively involved with the Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle, designing jewelry and a shop for Georges Fouquet. In 1910 he returned to Bohemia where he executed a series of twenty paintings for the city of Prague in 1928.