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Alphonse Mucha was a prolific artist who produced a great deal of work throughout his lifetime, perhaps unexpectedly including a significant quantity of work produced directly for the advertising arena.
This particular piece was created in 1897 for the French company Lefèvre Utile; the previous year he had produced Biscuits Champagne Lefevre Utile for the same company and in a similar style. Biscuits Lefevre Utile is a piece which echoes Mucha's almost stylised Art Nouveau period and is, both thematically and in terms of style, as far away as possible from such works as his famous Slav Epic, or the more naturalistic work seen in his publication, Le Pater. Mucha was so associated with this elegant and intricate school of art that it was, in fact, first known as the Mucha style, before being referred to as Art Nouveau, and his mastery of the genre is very clearly evident in Biscuits Lefevre Utile which is a beautiful example of the style.
Central to the work is a flower bedecked young woman, enrobed in the typically Mucha swathes of neo-classical fabrics and with a graceful arm extending to offer a plateful of biscuits. The colours have the brightness and boldness associated with the Art Nouveau movement and the almost baroque edgings of the painting have a card like quality. The helmet of flowers which the young woman is wearing echoes, perhaps unconsciously, the figure of Marianne, the personified symbol of the French Republic. The date, 1897, is prominently displayed across the foreground of the piece in an ornate fan shaped flourish.
For those attracted to this particular mood of Mucha's art, the similarly styled Bières de la Meuse, Moët & Chandon Crémant Impérial, and Job Cigarettes are all pieces which were created for advertising and which showcase Mucha's Art Nouveau talents at their best.