Morning Star 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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Morning Star was completed by Alphonse Mucha in 1902 after a whole series of preparatory drawings in which he carefully planned the composition. This ensured fewer amendments once he started on the final piece.

A study for this artwork is believed to have been completed using ink and watercolour on paper, which explains why some of the tones were less dominant than if delivered in an alternative medium such as oil. Mucha was highly skilled in a variety of mediums, and for example would combine several together on occasion. His Slav Epic series featured initial touches of egg tempera in order to lay out the design, before layers of oil were then added on top in order to deliver the precise detail. Watercolour was a medium which was particularly common within the UK and France during the 19th century and perhaps it was the artist's knowledge of the latter which persuaded him to make use of it within his own career. He found favour within Paris and took advantage of the considerable interest in cultural pursuits of the expanding middle classes. This brought him work in the form of commissions for posters that advertised all manner of different products which were connected to this desirable lifestyle.

This completed artwork is brighter and bolder than the study pieces, suggesting that it was almost certainly created in a different medium to them. Mucha is now much clearer in his mind as to how he intends to put this piece together and goes much further than the earlier pieces, even adding a decorative frame around the artwork, albeit painted on. The idea of framing an artwork visually, but without actually adding a physical frame was started by Jan van Eyck in Northern Europe, many centuries earlier. He would even create the illusion of three dimensional carved sculptures in a niche technique that underlined both his innovative mind as well as the incredible technical ability which seemed to come fairly naturally to him. Mucha's decision to do similar may have been due to the intended purpose of the design, where posters would be produced in large numbers and real physical frames for each and every one of them would have been completely out of the question.

If we examine the main central design, we find a young female figure wearing relatively little, with a bright light coming in from the top of the canvas to represent the title of the painting, The Morning Star. This part of the artwork gives a mystical atmosphere to the portrait, and with the rest of the scene being fairly dark in contrast, the artist does not include too much detail elsewhere. Etoile du Matin can be seen written on the very bottom of the canvas and his customary signature is located in the bottom left corner of the main painting.