Paul Rouaix's "Dictionary of Decorative Arts" was a two-volume compendium that acted as a reference to artists and artisans—namely, it included almost 600 engravings and 17 plates.
Mucha was commissioned to design the cover, and in his typical fashion, he delivered this decadent Art Nouveau artiste—adrift in thought, and with all the panache one could expect from a Mucha design. This is the original poster that advertised the publication.
Mucha. The father of Art Nouveau
"Alphonse Maria Mucha first name from the Czech Alfons (24 July 1860 – 14 July 1939), was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, best known for his distinct style and his images of women. He produced many paintings, illustrations, advertisements, and designs.
Born in the town of Ivančice, Moravia (today's region of the Czech Republic). Although his singing abilities allowed him to continue his education through high school in the Moravian capital of Brünn (today Brno), drawing had been his first love since childhood. He worked at decorative painting jobs in Moravia, mostly painting theatrical scenery. In 1879 he moved to Vienna to work for a leading Viennese theatrical design company, while informally furthering his artistic education. When a fire destroyed his employer's business in 1881 he returned to Moravia, to do freelance decorative and portrait painting. Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov hired Mucha to decorate Hrušovany Emmahof Castle with murals, and was impressed enough that he agreed to sponsor Mucha's formal training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts.
Mucha moved to Paris in 1887, and continued his studies at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi. In addition to his studies, he worked at producing magazine and advertising illustrations. Around Christmas 1894, Mucha happened to drop into a print shop where there was a sudden and unexpected need for a new advertising poster for a play starring Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress in Paris, at the Théâtre de la Renaissance on the Boulevard Saint-Martin. Mucha volunteered to produce a lithographed poster within two weeks, and on 1 January 1895, the advertisement for the play Gismonda by Victorien Sardou appeared on the streets of the city. It was an overnight sensation and announced the new artistic style and its creator to the citizens of Paris.Bernhardt was so satisfied with the success of this first poster that she entered into a 6 year contract with Mucha.
Mucha produced a flurry of paintings, posters, advertisements, and book illustrations, as well as designs for jewellery, carpets, wallpaper, and theatre sets in what was initially called the Mucha Style but became known as Art Nouveau (French for 'new art'). Mucha's works frequently featured beautiful, strong young women in flowing vaguely Neoclassical looking robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed haloes behind the women's heads. In contrast with contemporary poster makers he used pale pastel colors. The 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris spread the "Mucha style" internationally, of which Mucha said "I think [the Exposition Universelle] made some contribution toward bringing aesthetic values into arts and crafts." He decorated the Bosnia and Herzegovina Pavilion and collaborated in the Austrian Pavilion. His Art Nouveau style was often imitated. Later he declared that art existed only to communicate a spiritual message, and nothing more; hence his frustration at the fame he gained through commercial art, when he most wanted to concentrate on more lofty projects that would ennoble art and his birthplace." (Rogallery.com)