In the years before Mucha unveiled the Ivy painting, Jules Chéret had handpicked Mucha for publication in the popular monthly publication ‘Les Maîtres de l'Affiche’.
This publicity showcased Mucha’s artistic style to a much wider audience: contributing to Mucha’ aim for exposing his art to the widest possible audience, regardless of wealth or social standing.
The composition of this painting by Alphonse Mucha is very similar to the Ten Glass Panels that Mucha designed for the interior walls of the Boutique Fouquet.
At first glance, your eyes are drawn to the position of the female figure’s head (a common theme in Mucha’s work). She is viewed from the side; her chin tucked in, with her lips pursed and her eyes lowered and focused on the ground ahead of her.
Her long brown hair is entangled with ivy leaves and stems: these wrap around her, behind her face and through her hair, almost as if nature is battling with the force of humanity.
The arrows and half moons in front of her face, combined with the reflective symmetry of the patterns, suggest that the routines and structure of humanity are heading for confrontation with nature that dominates the painting.
Encased in a circular frame, the frame is decorated with a leaf motif (perhaps a respectful nod to Mucha’s frame pattern in the Zodiac (1896).
At the top and bottom of the painting, in parallel blocks, a pattern of dark green ivy leaves suggest a symmetry, but upon closer examination, the leaves and patterns are not symmetrical or ordered: perhaps a metaphor for the chaos of nature.