Alphonse Mucha, 'Société Populaire de Beaux Arts'

Alphonse Mucha, 'Société Populaire de Beaux Arts'

Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939)
'Société Populaire de Beaux Arts'
About 1897
Colour lithograph
Museum no. E.989-1966

The Image
The text of this poster reads: 'Art brought to the People through projections'. It advertised a series of talks on art in which slides were shown as illustrations. Their aim was to make the general public aware of the arts. The novel technique of projecting images would have made great works of art accessible to those who could not afford to travel or buy expensive reproductions.

The same could be said of Mucha's posters. His work took advertising to the level of art. Yet this was art that was out in the street, visible by everyone regardless of wealth or education. Art brought to the People through advertising.

This poster is printed with rich gold borders, as if emphasising its status as a work of art. The hair of the woman is also gold. She sits with a book in her lap, leaning on a projector. Her precise hand gestures suggest that she is imparting knowledge and inspiration. The figure in front of her listens in rapt attention. Perhaps he is a symbol of the 'common man', and she the Muse, the embodiment of art.

The heavy black lines around each figure are common in Mucha's work. Here they are especially noticeable, particularly around the figure of the man. These lines or borders allow each figure to show up clearly against a detailed background. This enabled Mucha to create rich, complex designs while ensuring that the poster was still readable at a quick glance in the street.

This poster can be found in Prints and Drawings Study Room box TOPIC 1b.