Alphonse Mucha was born in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) in 1860 and pursued studies in Prague and Munich. In 1887 he moved to Paris where he spent most of his career. He took on various commissions including book and magazine illustration work and poster designs in an Art Nouveau style. In December 1894, Mucha achieved immediate fame when he accepted a commission from Sarah Bernhardt, the greatest actress of the time, to create a promotional graphic for the play Gismonda. He also designed sets, costumes and jewellery for her.
Mucha used exquisite detail to create graceful and elegant forms and used a blend of natural and abstract decorative patterns. He produced a prolific number of posters, graphics, calendars, illustrations and decorative panel designs. Mucha's art was created for mass consumption and decoration.
In 1922, Mucha returned to Czechoslovakia where he designed banknotes and stamps. He is best remembered for his role in shaping the aesthetics of French Art Nouveau.
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