Age of Wisdom Alphonse Mucha Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

Alphonse Mucha produced a triptych towards the end of his career which was intended to be a comment on mankind, and although it was never completely finished, we have plenty of items left from this project to enjoy.

In the late 1930s, Europe was heading towards yet another major conflict and this may have influenced the artist to produce this commentary on mankind. The three titles of this body of work were The Age of Reason, The Age of Wisdom and The Age of Love. The painting that we find in front of us here was intended to be the central piece, hence the curved top which had already been planned when Mucha was producing the study drawings in which the approximate layout was constructed. The artist often used drawing and watercolour to create study pieces because they would be quicker and easier to put together, and then he would go for more complex layers of oil for the final designs. For the advertisement posters which were a key part of his career, these would be produced as lithograph prints which could then be dispersed around city centres in order to publicise various companies and products.

The detail featured within The Age of Wisdom will remind many of the earlier series that he worked on known as The Slav Epic. There is a plethora of supporting figures around the composition, and then a key central figure who is given much brighter light across her body in order to underline her significance. There is a religious or mystic atmosphere within this artwork, and Mucha would often picture scenes of real life and the higher powers within the same painting, but visually separated. In this case, the human figures are lying down or sat on the ground, appearing vulnerable, perhaps even inconsequential, in contrast to the tall looming people above who look down on them, almost with a menacing gaze as they slowly appear from the darker background. The feeling of danger is also increased further by the bright eyes that appear from just behind the main figure, suggesting power and authority, perhaps with less than pure intentions.

Mucha was a part of the Art Nouveau movement which spread right across Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century, although it was given different names in different nations. The styles would spread across different disciplines in a similar, but less impactful way to how the Renaissance would spread across European art, literature and architecture. The Czech painter and illustrator worked with oils, egg tempera, watercolour and standard drawing tools across his varied output which was a mixture of commercial commissioned pieces as well as some personal works which were entirely of his choosing and direction. This helped him balance the realities of life with the artistic desires of most creative people who want to allow their imagination to run free.