A beautiful young woman stands, delicately clothed, almost interwoven into the trees and flowers behind her. She holds a musical instrument, a delicately bent twig strung like a harp; birds linger on it, ready to sing. Her face looks both radiant and intent on the music she is playing. Her long hair drifts around her, its shade echoed in the trees behind. Her gown is both caught up in a branch beside her and underfoot. Everything is woven together; the curve of her instrument carries into the curve of the hip it rests against; the swirl of her sleeve is echoed in the swirl of her hair. The flowers in her hair look like the flowers in the trees behind.
The artist who created her is Alfons Mucha. His rise to popularity began when, finding himself in the right place at the right time, he was given the opportunity to create a poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s appearance in Gismonda. The poster he produced was so different from other posters at the time that it attracted immediate attention. Bernhardt loved it and gave him a contract to work with her. This established his reputation, though it was the work he did after that maintained it.
He created the image above, Spring, for a series of four panneaux or art posters depicting the seasons. You can see echoes of the posters he created for Bernhardt in the way it focuses on the young woman and makes her the center of the picture. You can see the influence of the folk art he grew up with, full of curving lines and beautiful patterns. You can see the influence of nature in the curving lines of trees and flowers. You can see his desire to create something beautiful for others.
As he brought together his ideas about art with the skills, ideas and knowledge he had developed, Mucha did not so much set out to change or challenge the practice of art as to follow his own vision. He began as a young man from the small town of Ivancice in what is now the Czech Republic. Then he became part of something much bigger. He became part of the change that was sweeping through French art, the movement that became known as Art Nouveau.
His vision matched the times. He created beautiful images for a world hungry for beauty, many of them in formats that could be shared widely. And now, in a world still hungry for beauty, we can share them too.
To learn more about the Alfons Mucha, visit the Mucha Foundation.