“Repos de la Nuit” [night rest] lithograph printed in colour with gold by F. Champenois in Paris, after the design of Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1936). Signed and dated 1899 in the lower right. Size: 17,9 x 58,8 cm. In frame.
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 managed to portray the Slavic soul with a slightly melancholic slant. In 1887 Mucha left for Paris. The entire city was overwhelmed by his work and the posters were even stolen from the streets. The graceful lines, fresh pastel colors and lavish motifs in his illustrations of sensual women became icons of the fin de siècle.
Such a design, soft coloring and astonishingly subtle drawing had never been seen before Mucha and gave direction to Art Nouveau. Central in his creations is the ‘Mucha woman’. She attracts us hypnotically with an indefinable, but irresistible aura: promising, caring, seductive, exalted and erotically vulnerable. Her gaze is hazy, as if she has just awakened, wavering between the love of the viewer and the vaguely remembered images of another world.
Between 1896 and 1902 Mucha reached his greatest graphic output and his best work dates from this period, including this Repos de la Nuit. It is from a series of four, depicting the times of the day. They are images of women dressed in flowing robes in a natural environment and characterized by subtle use of colours. The framing of the scene reminds us of stained glass windows in Gothic architecture.
In Champenois’ catalog of 1899, the printer states that the series was printed in 12 colours plus gold!