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Works by:

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Alphonse Mucha

Jules Chéret

Leonetto Cappiello

PAL (Jean de Paléologue)

A. M. Cassandre

Paul Colin

Bernard Villemot

Théophile Gustave Steinlen

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Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha wrote the book on art nouveau, quite literally: his "Documents Décoratifs" became the definitive text on the subject and was used by art schools for a generation. Everything that is best about the style - elaborate ornamentation with themes from nature, fine draftsmanship, the idealized feminine subjects, use of symbolism and allegory - flourished in him to a high degree of stunning mastery. He seems to approach even the most mundane of themes with an almost pious reverence, and he can elevate a girl advertising a common product into an ethereal vision of mystic significance.

He was born in the small Moravian village of Ivancice in what was then Austria (later, it became part of Czechoslovakia). After studies in Vienna and Munich he came to Paris, where he had the good fortune to be at the right place at the right time: Sarah Bernhardt, the reigning queen of the theater, needed a rush poster when no one else was available due to the Christmas holiday, and had no choice but to use Mucha - but, once she saw his work, he became her favorite designers of not only posters, but costumes, sets and jewelry as well for the next decade. Eventually, his association with her got him to spend some time in the United States, where he made a connection with a rich patron who enabled him to accomplish his life's ambition - a series of historic canvases about the about the Slavic tribes in Europe.

An excellent lithographer and master colorist, Mucha created about 100 posters and decorative panels and has remained one of the few artists whose body of work still excites collectors the world over. A significant number of special exhibits of his posters have been held in the past two decades, and the most prominent admirer and compatriot who has amassed nearly his complete output, tennis star Ivan Lendl, has made his collection available for touring shows - the most recent of which scored a major success in Paris in 1989.



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