This poster, Bieres de la Meuse, is an advertisement produced by Alphonse Mucha in 1897. Advances in printing technology and the rise of consumer culture at the turn of the nineteenth century made advertising a very profitable industry.
Over nearly twenty years living in Paris, Mucha produced a huge number of commercial illustrations, as well as designs for wallpaper, carpet, jewellery and silverware, though the most famous of his works are still his sets of decorative panel prints. The name of this piece translates from French to Beer of the Meuse and is borrowed from the company, situated by the Meuse river, for which it was created.
This, of course, explains the wheat and hops in the subject’s hair, and the beer in her hand. At the bottom of the poster, Mucha has drawn elegant frames to include two other images, though they are by a different artist. One features the goddess of the river Meuse and the other an overhead shot of the brewery in which the beer was made.
The poppies also included in the woman’s hair are reminiscent of one of Mucha’s earlier pieces, Summer, produced in the previous year. The female subject and elements of nature are a hallmark of Mucha’s style. as are the bright colours and flat perspective. These characteristics also feature heavily in the Art Nouveau style that Mucha inspired, and with which he shared the ideology that art should be accessible and abundant in everyday life. Though he tried later to distance himself from the style, this goal made both his work and that of others in the Art Nouveau style perfect for advertisements.
Tom Gurney in an art history expert. He received a BSc (Hons) degree from Salford University, UK, and has also studied famous artists and art movements for over 20 years. Tom has also published a number of books related to art history and continues to contribute to a number of different art websites. You can read more on Tom Gurney here.