“Monaco – Monte Carlo”, lithograph made by Alphonse Mucha, printed in Paris in 1897 by F. Champenois. Signed in the print at the lower left. Size: 108 x 75 cm.
Alphonse Mucha was born in Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) and is inextricably linked to Art Nouveau, initially called “le style Mucha”. Like no other he knew how to portray the Slavic soul with a slightly melancholic slant. Mucha left for Paris in 1887. The city became overwhelmed by his works and his posters were even stolen from the streets. The graceful lines, fresh pastel colours and sumptuous motifs in his illustrations of sensual women, became the icons of the fin de siècle.
Such design, soft colouring and astonishingly subtle drawing, had never been seen before. Mucha became the single most famous and influential artist of the whole Art Nouveau movement in Europe.
Between 1896 and 1902, Mucha achieved his greatest graphic productivity and his best work dates from this period, including the poster “Monaco – Monte Carlo”, the forerunner of all luxury tourist posters.
The “Mucha girl” is central to many of his creations. She attracts us hypnotically with an untold yet irresistible vision, an unspoken promise – healthful, seductive, uplifting and erotically vulnerable. Her look is hazy, as if she just arose, portrayed at the moment of awakening, wavering between the viewer’s adoration and the vaguely remembered images of another world.
This poster advertises the Paris-Lyon-Marseille railway line. It promises the delights of a luxurious holiday along the Mediterranean. The beautiful woman holds her hands in awe against a backdrop of a blue sea and mountainous coastline. Surrounded by natural beauty, she is lined with a lush pattern of curving stalks of lilac, hydrangea, dianthus and violets. In the distance we see the distinctive towers of the famous casino of Monte Carlo.