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Alphonse Mucha a Czech painter and decorative artist

Alphonse Mucha was born on 24 July, 1860 in Ivancice, Moravia (modern Czech Republic). From childhood Mucha dedicated himself to drawing. In Moravia he worked at decorative painting jobs, mostly painting theatrical scenery. Mucha moved to Austria (Vienna), in 1879, where he worked for a well-known theatrical design company. Unfortunately, a fire destroyed that company and Mucha came back to Moravia where he worked at decorative and portrait paintings. Mucha was commissioned to decorate Hrušovany Emmahof Castle with murals. Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov was so impressed with the results that he decided to pay for Mucha’s study at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.

When Alphonse Mucha moved to Paris he began his study at the Academie Julian. During that time along with his studies, Mucha worked at creating advertising illustrations and magazines. About Christmas 1894, Mucha volunteered to produce an advertising poster for a play featuring Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris at that time. Within two weeks the job was completed and Bernhardt was so pleased with the results that she began a six-year contract with talented Czech artist Mucha.

Mucha often painted beautiful young women frequently surrounded by flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads. After seven years of hard work in Paris, Mucha became a successful artist. He used pale pastel colors to produce his lovely masterpieces.

In 1900 Mucha designed the Bosnia-Herzegovina Pavilion where there was a World’s Fair in Paris. In Prague, where he settled later, Mucha decorated the Theater of Fine Arts, and other places around the city. After World War I, when Czechoslovakia won its independence, Mucha was honored to design the new postage stamps, banknotes, and other government documents for the new state.

During his life Mucha created many works: paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs. Mucha made several trips to America. He was also commissioned from U.S. patrons to paint many portraits. At that time Mucha was already married to Maruška (Marie/Maria) Chytilová. With her Mucha had two children (daughter and son).

In 1909 Mucha went to Prague. There he was working on a series of murals for the Lord Mayor’s Hall. Mucha also began to plan out his life’s fine art masterpiece. It took 18 years of his life to complete this project – The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), a series of twenty huge paintings depicting the history of the Czech and the Slavic nation. In 1919 the first eleven canvases were completed and exhibited in Prague, and America.

When the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia, Mucha was among the first arrested. He returned home after a Gestapo questioning session and died on July 14, 1939, in Prague.

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