Byzantine Head - The Blonde 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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In 1897 Mucha released a pair of artworks that featured a blonde and brunette figure. The former is featured here and has been regularly published as a lithographic print, using traditional techniques. The women are both in side profile, with all but their heads and shoulders cropped out from the composition.

The nature of this design, where we focus centrally on the model's head, ensures that detail around it is delivered in precise detail. Typically, his figures would be full length, with a whole plethora of plants and flowers intertwined around the scene. Mucha chooses therefore to provide an intense display of jewellery including a sort of cap with precious stones that covers her forehead. There is then further touches of accessories in her hair, which itself is also highly stylised, with curls reaching out of the painting itself. Behind the woman is a myriad of patterned design, which looks somewhat organic in nature but is not precise enough to completely resemble anything specific. The artist then signs the piece in the bottom right hand side, upon the model's white dress which allows it to be seen clearly. There is also a small border around this circular artwork that serves as a frame to protect and better present the final piece.

The style of clothing worn here is generally termed as Byzantine and this helped the designs to achieve popularity almost straight away. To produce sister artworks was interesting and unusual for the artist, though not entirely unique - we recall his Four Seasons, as well as another series which captured different flowers across each iteration. Female portraiture was the specialist topic of this artist, for sure, but he also paid great attention to the supporting parts of each composition, be it winding plants, arrays of pretty flower heads or more abstract shapes which served purely an aesthetic value. Within this example, you will see how Mucha fills the background with subtle shapes, some of which have fairly sharp angles to them, and whilst they do not symbolise anything in particular, they do help to support the overall piece and blend nicely with the tones used for the female head.

Lithographic prints of this design, as well as many others from Alphonse Mucha are still available today, with some companies offering the same traditional techniques of production. Some have even been endorsed by the artist's own family who continue to manage his considerable legacy and promote his reputation around the world. He is probably as famous today as he ever has been, with these types of feminine styles of work receiving the attention that they deserve. Just as female artists have been given more exposure, so have male artists who worked in a manner that embraced and celebrated the beauty of women. Thankfully, the art world is a little more democratic in today's world, even though there are still things that need to be improved upon further.