Amants Alphonse Mucha Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This Amants print is one of the theatrical posters that Mucha produced for Sarah Bernhardt

Amants was a comedy, and although Bernhardt was not one of the featured players, the Theatre De La Renaissance was Bernhardt's theater. When anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of art history looks at one of the theatre posters, magazine covers, postcards, and other lithographs created by the Czech artist Alphonse Mucha in the late 19th and earlier 20th century, the first thought that likely comes to mind is "this is Art Nouveau".

Indeed, with its highly ornate style characterized by intricately precise curvilinear renderings, Mucha's work seems to fit under a larger umbrella together with the works of Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and others. Nonetheless, it should be noted that Alphonse Mucha never embraced the 'Art Nouveau' label.

Whether or not Mucha thought of himself as an art nouveau illustrator is beside the point of course. One thing that is certain, however, is that Alphonse Mucha found himself in the right place at the right time. Born the son of a court house usher in Moravia (modern day Czech Republic), Alphonse Mucha always exhibited an aptitude for drawing. However, after failing to be admitted to the Prague Academy of Fine Arts, Mucha became a journeying artist, travelling throughout Europe eking out a living drawing portraits and illustrations for anyone who would pay him.

He finally ended up in the art mecca of Paris in 1887. Although for a few years he did enjoy the support of a patron (Count Khuen Belasi of Austria), this flow of funds quickly dried up. Mucha's real big break came when he became the illustrator of choice for Parisian stage starlet Sarah Bernhardt. The first poster Mucha made for Bernhardt was Gismonda in 1894. This poster proved to be so impressive and effective, that Bernhardt would continue to work with Mucha exclusively over the course of the following six years.