Turn-of-the-century artist Alphonse Mucha (Czech, 1860–1939) was the undeniable founder of Art Nouveau, in spite of his efforts to distance himself from that distinction. His highly decorative advertising works were famous for featuring a woman semi-nude, hair billowing, draped in luxuriant fabrics, and languidly posed as if to indicate that the Belle Époque had been invented for her pleasure alone.
Alongside these eye-catching posters, labels, postcards, and calendars, Mucha created decorative designs. In 1902, by then a wildly popular artist, he published Documents décoratifs (Decorative Documents), a book filled with seventy-two plates of the kind in this notecard assortment. Mucha hoped to focus on providing ready-made designs for practical use on everyday objects, requests for which were plentiful. But, as he wrote, “The enterprising publishers sold the work to schools and libraries of nearly all the countries of Europe. . . . Of course I imagined quite wrongly that now I would be left in peace. Not at all.” Requests for his work increased, and Mucha became tied even more closely to Art Nouveau.
Twenty assorted 5 x 7 in. blank notecards (5 each of 4 designs) with envelopes in a decorative box
Printed on recycled paper
Published with Virginia Museum of Fine Arts