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Perhaps no other Art Nouveau painter's work is more recognizable than that of Czech artist Alphonse Maria Mucha.
Mucha is also well-known for his serial prints depicting various subjects such as seasons or time. In 1898, he created a series of four colour lithographs celebrating the arts. Painting, Poetry, Dance, and Music each had a different time of day as a background setting.
This painting in particular, Poetry, is an excellent example of Mucha's Art Nouveau style. The pale colours are subdued and natural. The woman, beautiful, with long, flowing hair, is surrounded by ornate flowers. She is the personification of poetry.
Her flowing gown is painted in hues of pale blue and green that are reminiscent of the sky and the land. She rests on the golden background which blends with her long, golden hair.
The woman looks down upon the countryside, her head crowned with a laurel branch, symbolic of poetry and divination. She appears to be in contemplation as she gazes down on the scenery, almost as though she were seated upon a swing high above the Earth.
Pensive, and feeling, as the muse watches all the activity below, inspiring the poets who bring us their words.
During his lifetime, Mucha created countless paintings, designs, illustrations, advertisements, and postcards. Take a walk down any street in Paris, and you will quite likely see the work of Alphonse Mucha hanging in a shop window, or on display in a postcard rack.
It was his belief that works of art should be accessible to the general public, that art should be displayed in the homes of the very poor as well as of the very affluent, as beautiful works of art could improve the quality of life for everyone.