Mucha's print for F. Champenois France is a lithograph. Lithography is a form of printing that uses a thin metal sheet that has been etched with a design in reverse. Ink is then applied to the sheet very carefully with a paint brush in order to create an intricate design before being printed onto paper.
The same lithographic metal sheet can be used time and time again, making it very useful for pieces that need to be replicated many times - such as the advertising posters for which Mucha is renowned.
Lithography had been popular for at least a century before Mucha came to use it; the poet and painter William Blake used lithographs for example. The jewel like colours and sense of opulence in this print by Mucha is very typical of much Art Nouveau art.
Other works by Mucha in this style include his theatrical portraits of Sarah Bernhardt.
What is particularly interesting, in this context, about the F. Champenois advert by Mucha is that Champenois himself was an editor and printer of lithographs.
In fact, Champenois was the main editor and printer that Mucha worked with. Thus, this poster is not just an advert that was commissioned by a printer, it is a work of art with a personal significance.
Many commentators state that the F. Champenois print by Mucha is the most beautiful advert that a lithographer has ever made. The reason for this may well be found in the fact that Mucha had a personal and monetary reason to make the print the very best it could be.
As well as being a painter, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) was also a decorative artist. This interest in decoration and making objects pleasing to the eye is very much in evidence in his print for F. Champenois France. Mucha is well known as a painter in the Art Nouveau style, though he was also very much influenced by Baroque art.
Art Nouveau was characterised by intricate attention to detail (for instance, carefully drawn and stylised flowers or curls in long flowing hair) and flowing, ribbon like lines. This stylised yet very detailed approach made Mucha's advertising posters both eye catching and distinctive - as well as very beautiful.