Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha (1860 - 1939), Czech born artist, illustrator and creator of some of the most popular posters that are now known as "vintage". In addition to his studies (including the Academie Julian where C.F. Goldie also studied) Mucha worked at producing magazine and advertising illustrations. According to many sources around Christmas 1894 Mucha happened to drop into a print shop where there was a sudden and unexpected need for a new advertising poster for a play starring Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris. Mucha volunteered to produce a lithographed poster within two weeks, and on 1 January 1895, the advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou appeared on the streets of the city. It was an overnight sensation and announced the new artistic style and its creator to the citizens of Paris. Bernhardt was so satisfied with the success of this first poster that she entered into a 6 year contract with Mucha to produce posters advertising her shows. Mucha's outpouring of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations, as well as designs for jewellery, carpets, wallpaper, and theatre sets in what was initially called the Mucha Style but became known as Art Nouveau (French for 'new art').