Autumn is a colour lithograph poster from 1900 by the Czech artist and designer, Alphonse Mucha. Part of a series depicting the four seasons, Autumn is typical of the art nouveau style with which Mucha is so closely associated. Although this style was originally referred to as the Mucha style, the term art nouveau was something from which he would later try to distance himself, as he believed that art should be eternal and not merely new for a certain time.
In this respect, the woman depicted in Autumn, and the women featured in the series as a whole, display the influence of the pre-Raphaelites as well as the religious icons of classical works. The theme of the seasons itself is a timeless one which has been taken up by many artists throughout history. Even so, the art nouveau style of the panels is unmistakeable, with flowing, asymmetrical lines, subdued pastel colours and a reverence of the feminine and organic as a reaction against increasing industrialisation.
Ironically, it was advances in print technology which enabled the artists associated with the art nouveau style to accomplish their goal of making everyday objects beautiful and breaking down the barriers between what might be considered high and low art.
Having been raised in Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic, and having studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, it was in Paris where Mucha first found success as a commercial artist. By taking the opportunity to produce a poster at very short notice for the play Gismonda, starring the renowned actress Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha ensured his own breakthrough. The poster proved so popular that it led to a six year contract with the actress and launched Mucha's career as a commercial artist and designer.