Artist: Alphonse Mucha Czech (1860-1939)
Plate: PL. 114
Original lithograph from "Les Maitres de L'Affiche" series.
Printed by Imprimerie Chaix, Paris, 1898.
Reference: Rennert/Weill, 20; Lendl/Prague, p. 47; DFP-II, 626; Maitres, 144; Mucha/Art Nouveau, 7; Bernhardt/Drama, p. 62; Posters of Paris, 87; PAI-LXXXI, 381
Presented in 16 x 20 in. acid free, archival museum mat, with framing labels. Ready to frame. Shipped boxed flat.
Certificate of Authenticity.
Maitre Sheet Size: approx 11 3/8 in x 15 3/4 in 29 cm x 40 cm
The high water mark of Art Nouveau is attained in this brilliant Mucha poster which invites us to ponder each intricate design segment that in harmony creates a masterpiece.
Study for Lorenzaccio: Head of Sarah Bernhardt
"Mucha transformed unchanged this portrait study of the famous actress, with a theatrically exaggerated gesture of meditation into the resulting poster. That seems to be why Sarah's contemporaries admired the accuracy of the the rendition of her appearance.
The drawing reveals Mucha's expertise. The expression of of the actress' eyes and face defines the likeness. Her hair is emphasized, and the gesture of her hand has an important role in conveying the mood of the drawing. J.B.O." (The Spirit of Art Nouveau. P.144)
Sarah Bernhardt is Lorenzaccio
"Sarah Bernhardt in the role of Lorenzaccio (she often portrayed male characters) wrapped in thought and a brown robe. Surrounded by golden, Art Nouveau floral motifs and surmounted by a pale green dragon, Mucha chose to illustrate Lorenzacio contemplating "how to kill Alexander [who is laying seige to Florence] in order to save the town and his own honor . . . The dragon above represents the evil forces about to devour the city . . . the ornate, jewelled sword in the bottom panel . . . the possible solution. (Rennert/Weill p. 107). This is the smaller format, which Rennert/Weill points out was not printed with metallic inks and differs slightly in text from the 1896, larger format. However, Rennert/Weill do not point out the color and design differences. This piece lacks any red, and dark green, and also has fewer ornamentations than the larger format." (Swann)
Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492)
"The character of Lorenzaccio, in the play by Alfred de Musset, is based on Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492), the most powerful of the Medicis, who ruled the city-state of Florence. In the play, Lorenzaccio struggles desperately to save Florence, which had grown rich during his reign from the grip of a power-hungry conqueror. Mucha represents this tyranny by a dragon menacing the city coat of arms and portrays Lorenzaccio pondering the course of his action. Sarah Bernhardt adapted the play, first written in 1863, for herself, and the new version, for which this poster was produced, opened December 3, 1896. Never afraid to tackle a male role, Bernhardt made Lorenzaccio into the classic roles of her repertoire" (Lendl/Paris p.18)
"Sarah Bernhardt adopts the pose of a pensive Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449-1492), the most powerful of the Medicis, in this play by Alfred de Musset. In the drama, Lorenzaccio struggles to save Florence, which had grown rich during his reign, from the grip of a power-hungry conqueror. Mucha represents this tyranny with a dragon menacing the city coat of arms (top left); Lorenzo has closed the book he was reading to ponder his course of action. Bernhardt adapted this 1863 play for herself, and the new version, represented by this poster, opened December 3, 1896. "Never afraid to tackle a male role, Bernhardt made Lorenzaccio one of the regular parts of her repertoire” (Lendl/Prague, p. 47). Anatole France's review says it all: "In her latest transformation she is astonishing... She has created a living masterpiece by her sureness of gesture, the tragic beauty of her pose and glance, the increased power in the timbre of her voice, and the suppleness and breadth of her diction—through her gifts, in the end, for mystery and terror" (Bernhardt/Gottlieb, p. 140)."