Artist of the month Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha is the artist of the month this month. He was born July 24,1860 in southern Moravia {part of the Czech Republic today}. When he was 19 years old he got a job as a painter, painting theatrical scenery in Vienna. He worked there until a fire burned down the theater and put him out of work. He roamed around the country to avoid his family’s concern’s and sketched landscapes and portraits. He also painted drop curtains for local theater’s. He made enough of a reputation to get commissioned to paint murals at Emmahof castle and Gandegg castle.
In 1885 he entered the Munich academy of art where he studied for two years. In 1887 he moved to Paris and entered Academe Julian. He studied there until 1889 when he ran out of money and began making a living illustrating books and catalogs. While working as an illustrator he began to take photographs of his models and catalog them with detailed notes.
It was by chance that he designed a poster for Sarah Bernhardt. The printer didn’t like it but Sarah loved it. This made him famous. He had a flare for designing very ornate and detailed pieces. The posters for Sarah had a huge amount of detail. He was paid well to create poster for Sarah’s plays. While working on the poster’s he was flooded with orders for advertisement illustrations. Most of the commissions he received was for calendars, posters, champagne posters and biscuit boxes.
Art Nouveau became known as the Mucha style. He worked with a printer named Champenois who printed his decorative panels on paper and satin. The panels where sold to people to use as decoration in their homes. He died July 14, 1939. This information was taken from the book Mucha by Arthur Ellridge
The reason Mucha is the artist of the month is because his design style is perfect for glass etching. If you pay attention to the borders around his subjects they are sometimes more intricate than the subject. He also did drapery in most of his advertisements. Most of his work featured women with flowing loose garments. The study of drapery is one of my favorites when it comes to glass etching. The long flowing gowns with all their folds and curves where sometimes very detailed and sometimes very simple. He was a very good illustrator. His imagination was very strong when designing the posters of women and the ornate borders. He would often add flowers in their hair.
Art Nouveau has lost it’s flare when it comes to decorating but I think it is very important to study the work he did when it comes to etching. When you add a design in the middle of the glass, if you study Mucha’s work, you can add a huge amount of flare by adding a very ornate and detailed border. Glass etching has always been about flowers. It is my guess the most etched theme. The old style copper wheel engravings where almost always flowers. Mucha’s style included flowers in the borders and in the flowers in the backgrounds and in his models hair. I think Art Nouveau has a place in glass etching forever. I would like to see the Mucha style live forever.
Mucha was in my opinion one of the great masters when it comes to imagination. His flare for adding a design in the background instead of just the solid color. This idea would work well with etching by way of adding detailed designs in the background by blasting through things like lace or screen or even blasting the background on the other side of the glass.
Mucha is one of my favorite artist and an inspiration in my glass art. Let his work be an inspiration to you as well.

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