He wrote two books about design which are still used by art students today.

Mucha painted this peony design in 1897 in a manner which epitomised the Art Nouveau style. As an artist in the vanguard of the Art Nouveau movement, he believed that beauty should be present in every domestic object.

He believed that everything, however functional, could be a work of art. In Europe and the USA, fashionable home-makers wanted every surface to be richly patterned and decorated. Mucha's fabric design, Peonies, was one of many in his portfolio that met this demand.

Peonies flower in summer and are often used together with roses in flower arrangements.

Many people believe that the presence of peonies in a wedding bouquet will ensure a long and happy marriage, which may partially account for the popularity of this Mucha painting.

Peonies are among the world's best known and most loved flowers, and growers have cultivated them for centuries.

References to them exist in Chinese literature from the Tang Dynasty. They appear on ceramics four thousand years old, and Confucius even mentions eating them.

Mucha painted the original version of this image in watercolour and ink as a design to be printed on fabric. Peony flowers are formed of masses of tightly packed petals, and here he paints the flowers very realistically in typically soft peony colours.

He provides contrast by arranging the curved stems in a stylised pattern. The black outlines add emphasis. A regular pattern repeat is important to keep the size of the printing blocks down to practical dimensions, whether printing is to be on paper or fabric. This fabric design is ideal for use in printing.