Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939) was one of the most prominent Art Noveau artists and designers. He was born in Ivančice, Moravia – region that was under Austrian administration at the time, but today it is part of the Czech Republic. He showed artistic talent from young age, first through singing, later through drawing and painting. Shortly after dropping out of Gymnasium in Brno, where he had a choral scholarship, he decided to become a painter. The dream was almost crushed after he got rejected by Prague Academy of Art, but he persisted and continued working on decorative designs for small magazines and theaters.
At the age of 25 (1885) he was finally accepted into Munich Academy of Arts where he studied for two years under the patronage of Count Khuen Belasi. After Munich he moved to Paris and continued his studies at Academie Julien and Academie Colarossi. He ran into some financial troubles as patronage from Count Khuen Belasi suddenly ceased and was forced to stop his education. He secured his income through various commissions for French and Czech publishers. Through work on book illustrations and costume designs he started forming his distinctive style which was heavily influenced by Pre-Raphelites and Japanese Ukiyo-e style.
Mucha’s decorative style was graceful and translucent. Main motives of his work, which wasn’t unusual for Art Nouveau, were women. They were characterised by curved lines and rich, thick hair, bolded outlines, and their appearance would often leave a saintly impression. His popularity quickly grew and he came to be known as the best decorative artist of his time.
Near the end of the 19th century he explored his spirituality and beliefs which was reflected in his work, especially in illustrated book Le Pater (1899).