Alfonse Mucha • Poster, 1898, 206×76 cm
Digital copy: 423.1 kB
980 × 2803 px • JPEG
18.4 × 50 cm • 135 dpi
16.6 × 47.5 cm • 150 dpi
8.3 × 23.7 cm • 300 dpi
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About the artwork
Art form: Poster
Subject and objects: Literary scene
Style of art: Art Nouveau
Technique: Color lithograph
Materials: Paper
Date of creation: 1898
Size: 206×76 cm
Artwork in selections: 42 selections
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Description of the artwork «Medea»

In 1889, the life of Alphonse Mucha was the embodied dream of many painters. He is known and in demand, there is no end to orders. He has been working productively with Sarah Bernhardt for several years in a row. The actress even goes on tour exclusively with his posters, glorifying the artist throughout Europe and even overseas. This year, Mucha creates a poster for the play "Medea" based on the play by Katyul Mendes with Sarah Bernhardt in the title role.

This work is very different from the rest of the Fly posters made during the collaboration with the great actress (1, 2, 3, 4) She is not inferior to them in grandeur, but has a very special mood and is riddled with a tragic nightmare. The artist depicts Medea at the most dramatic moment of the performance, when in a fit of jealousy, she brutally stabs her own children after the insidious murder of an opponent. Part of the woman’s face is hidden by a dark cloth, and the visible part is seized with horror from the deed. Frozen crazy gaze, tense posture and frantically clenched hands only enhance this effect. An outfit of gloomy shades, covering Medea’s entire body, is similar to the waves of the night sea, in which the children lying at the woman’s feet “drown”.

Special attention deserves a bracelet in the shape of a snake wrapping around Medea's hand. After Fly created this poster, Sarah Bernhardt was eager to get exactly the same decoration. The artist drew a separate sketch of the bracelet and ring, connected by a chain, after which Bernard, a passionate lover of jewelry, ordered their production by the famous Parisian jeweler Georges Fouquet. The elegant, albeit slightly eerie decoration turned out to be truly luxurious: diamonds, rubies, opals and enamel adorned the golden body of the reptile. When the bracelet was ready, Bernard began to wear it each time, playing the role of Medea.
This bracelet marked the beginning of a rather long collaboration between Alphonse Mucha and George Fouquet. The jeweler created bizarre sketches of the artist necklaces, bracelets, brooches and hair ornaments. At the 1900 exhibition in Paris, the joint collection of Fouquet and Mucha jewelry made a lot of noise. Now these jewelry can often be seen in museums.

Author: Evgenia Sidelnikova