F. Champenois Poster by Alphonse Mucha

Original Boho Chic: Ads by Alphonse Mucha

In his sensual, softly colored illustrations of Belle Epoque beauties, Alphonse Mucha revolutionized Parisian visual culture in the late 19th century. A forefather of graphic design, he brought a distinct typographic style and bohemian aesthetics to lithograph prints and posters advertising everything from rolling papers to liquor, theater productions, and perfume. Get lost in the ethereal brilliance...

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JOB'S CIGARETTE PAPER, 1886

This lithograph poster was printed globally for the cigarette paper, and proved to be one of the most successful print collaborations of Mucha’s career. Job kept Mucha on retainer, a rarity for artists at the time, and afforded the Czech-born artist the luxury of a large studio and apartment in Paris.

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F. CHAMPENOIS, 1898

This print of a peasant woman in Egyptian dress advertises Mucha's primary Parisian lithographer's printing shop, F. Champenois. When displayed in public, his work startled with its novelty. Dancing the line between stylized sensuality and striking realism, he illustrated women considered to be the epitome of beauty at the time.

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‘GISMONDA,’ 1894

What skyrocketed Mucha to bohemian artistic fame wasn't a gallery curator or art dealer — it was French actress Sarah Bernhardt, whom he depicted numerous times for her theatrical performances around the world. The two became friends and collaborators, rising together in popularity. Mucha’s lithograph for Bernhardt’s show 'Gismonda' was so well received, people cut them off theater walls and stole them from display cases.

Lefevre Utile Gaufrettes Vanille Poster by Alphonse Marie Mucha swim ink 2 llc/Corbis via Getty Images

LEFEVRE UTILE GAUFRETTE VANILLE, 1896

On the front of the box for this brand of cookies, a blond goddess adorned with a crown of flowers stares seductively into the eyes of the viewer. Delicious.

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'LA PRINCESSE LOINTAINE', 1896

This poster was displayed for a personal banquet of Bernhardt's friendsat the Grand Hotel in Paris. It was so popular, it was reproduced for postcards, magazines, and the department store La Belle Jardinière.

Woman of Samaria (Poster). Artist: Mucha, Alfons Marie (1860-1939) Heritage Images/Getty Images

‘WOMAN OF SAMARIA’, 1897

Mucha's collaborations with Bernhardt weren't limited to graphics. She hired him to design costumes and sets in addition to dozens of posters. The two worked together for nearly a decade.

1896 Noel 1897 Poster by Alphonse Marie Mucha swim ink 2 llc/Corbis via Getty Images

L'ILLUSTRATION MAGAZINE, 1896

This cover, like many of Mucha's pieces, is woven with symbolic imagery and motifs. The new year lays to rest the passing one, Christmas trees build a latticework, and otherworldly hands clutch the binding.

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SOCIÉTÉ DES USINES CHIMIQUES DU RHÔNE, 1896

This period of his work is known as the Belle Epoque (beautiful age). Women responded eagerly to the aesthetic, and cosmetics advertisers — including the perfume company that commissioned this poster — quickly caught on.

Savonnerie de Bagnolet illustration by Alphonse Mucha Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images

SAVONNERIE DE BAGNOLET ALFRED SCHWEIZER, 1898

In an advertisement for a soap factory, Mucha’s subject is elaborately adorned with the kind of ornaments the artist might have fashioned himself. A renaissance man of Art Nouveau, Mucha also worked in metals, and designed everything from jewelry to cutlery, furniture, and candlestick holders, all of which incorporated the swooping and swirling designs that made him famous.

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SALON DES CENT MUCHA EXHIBITION, 1897

Promoting his exhibition in Paris, this poster depicts a woman in Mucha’s signature “whiplash“ style, a term referencing the flick-of-the-wrist look of the curves in her hair and fabrics. She wears a Moldavian headpiece, an homage to his home country of Czechoslovakia.

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LA TRAPPISTINE, 1897

In this ad for a liquor by Parisian distillers Legouey & Delbergue, Mucha utilized the elongated figure style he developed for his Bernhardt pieces. He used the elegant stature of the women to represent the sophistication of the product. Her hair falls straight like an icicle, and the drapery beneath the side table, with its organic folds and soft creases, balances out the composition.

Salon des Cent: XXme Exposition by Alphonse Mucha swim ink 2 llc/Corbis via Getty Images

SALON DES CENT, 1896

This promotional poster advertised a gathering in Paris held at the headquarters of the artistic journal La Plume, an event that included fellow artists Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard, Ensor, and Grasset. The topless figure's tresses consume the composition, and she holds the tools of the artist, perhaps implying her representation as a muse.