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Artist: Alphonse Mucha Czech (1860-1939)

Item: M6

Title: Noel, 1896-1897

Description: Condition A+
"L'Illustration" Original front cover,
printed by Ducourtioux & Huillard Se.
in Paris, 1896.
Signed and dated in the stone bottom right

Reference: Ref: Mucha/Bridges R8 (p. 171), Grand Palais L.21.

Presented in 16 x 20 in.
acid free, archival museum mat, with framing labels. Ready to frame. Shipped boxed flat
via Fedex. Certificate of Authenticity.
See our Terms of Sale

Sheet Size: 11 in x 15 in
  28 cm x 38.1 cm
Price: $2500.00 USD

This cover was designed in 1896 for the special Christmas/New Years edition of L'Illustration. As in many examples of Mucha's designs for magazine covers, this composition is rich with symbolism.  Although Mucha didn't mention this particular design in his own writing, it can be interpreted as follows:

As indicated by the title, 1896-Noel-1897, this edition of the magazine marks the turn of the year - the passing of the old year and its renewal.  The figure of the woman in the foreground seems to symbolise the passing year, while the winged figure is wrapping her body in a shroud. The silhouetted flower held by the passing woman is a thistle, which often symbolises sin and earthly suffering. However, the hope for renewal and redemption is indicated by the image of the silhouetted church building in the background (considering the occasion, probably the Church of the Nativity) as well as the band of decorative motifs on the left, consisting of three pairs of hands and snowy branches of a Christmas tree. In the Christian context, pairs of hands often allude to spiritual power or the conduits to convey spiritual energy, while Christmas trees represent vitality or life force.  Whist these motifs were inspired by the Christian tradition, the idea of 'mechnical' hands with cogs is totally unique.  By this, probably Mucha expressed the power of a mysterious God who governs time and the harmonious working of Nature. (Mucha Trust)


1895 L'Illustration Christmas edition
cover by Maurice de Lambert


The Father of Art Nouveau, Alphonse Mucha, uses many of his signature design elements to create the famous Christmas edition cover for the magazine LŽillustration, December 1896. One of the most unique, imaginative and unusual of Mucha's cover designs. One of his traits was to personify ideas in supernatural beings, as seen in the crowned angellic fiqure with dramatic stylized wings which add rhythm to the background. Similar to the stylized wings used in his famous La Plume cover design.


Cover for La Plume 1899

The beautiful lying figure has her blonde meandering tresses of hair cascading into the foreground. A signature design element Mucha uses with great effect in many of his designs. Birds gather at her arm and in flight in the background. A fantastic collection of ornate Art Nouveau designs are used down the left side, with wonderful images of gloved hands, snowflakes, stars and more. Truly a magnificent work by the father of Art Nouveau.

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