Alphonse Mucha was born in 1860 and his work includes some of the finest and best known examples of the Art Nouveau style in existence. The lithograph Reverie was executed in 1897, originally intended to illustrate the 1898 Champenois company’s calendar. The lithograph was instantly popular and was published in the magazine La Plume with the title Reverie.
Mucha was born in Ivanice in Moravia, then a part of what was the Austro-Hungarian empire. Mucha’s upbringing in a family of modest standing and means was strictly Roman Catholic and this background is evident in the symbolism of much of his work.
Mucha’s work epitomises the Art Nouveau style perhaps more solidly than any other artist’s. In Reverie the bold white and green swirling patterns that top and frame the picture are archetypically redolent of botanical growth in form, a staple of the art nouveau style. The colours also reflect those of nature and the whole piece is a shining example of Mucha’s work and the art nouveau movement.
Mucha’s work has been popular for over a century and it has been used in enormous proliferation in advertising, book illustration and other media.
Mucha’s journey to success was not an easy one: in 1877 he made application to join the Academy of Visual Arts in Prague; he was denied entry. 1879 saw Mucha employed as an assistant designer of stage sets in Vienna. Three years later he had returned to Moravia and took up painting portraits. In the town of Mikulov Mucha met the Count Karl Khuen-Belassi. Mucha’s experience in designing stage sets gave him an advantage in interior decoration and the Count commissioned him to decorate Emahoff Castle. This work was a success and the Count patronised Mucha and financed his formal education at the Milan Academy of Visual Arts.