Summer is the second of a four-part series of lithographed decorative panels entitled The Seasons produced by Alphonse Mucha in 1896. As the name suggests, each piece depicts one of the four seasons and its mood, and, just like in Summer, the others all feature a woman in a natural environment.
The series is very much representative of the Art Nouveau style which Mucha greatly influenced, though he later tried to distance himself from it. The movement focused on the forms and structures found in nature, including flowers and plants. It also commonly featured sharp curves, bold colours and a flat perspective, just as can be seen in this piece.
Another important aspect of Art Nouveau is that it encompassed many forms of art from fine art to architecture to decorative art. Even household items such as furniture, silverware, jewellery and textiles were crafted in the Art Nouveau style so that one could embrace art as a way of life.
This philosophy was important to Mucha too, who produced not only paintings, illustrations, posters and advertisements, but also designs for jewellery, wallpapers and carpets. It is also likely why he chose to print this series as a set of lithographed posters, making his pieces a readily available and affordable option for a wide audience.
In fact, this set was so popular that Mucha was asked to create another two sets based on the same theme in 1897 and 1900, and he also had designs for another two sets. Additionally, Mucha produced many more similar sets including The Arts (1898), The Flowers (1898), The Times of Day (1899) and The Precious Stones (1900).