Mucha's Seasons

Saturday, April 27th 2024

by Alphonse Mucha

Alphonse Mucha (Prague, 1860-1939)

The Seasons, 1896

A set of four original lithographs of the first edition (on a total of five).

H. 107 W. 56 cm.

Spring (crease on bottom left)
Summer (small spot on bottom right)
Fall (fold on bottom right)
Winter (tears on bottom right)

Provenance: an estate in the Gers region.


- Marina Henderson, Anna Dvorak, « Alphonse Mucha l’œuvre graphique complète », Paris, Academy Editions, 1980, a set reproduced under references P3-6, p. 20-21 & 146 ;
- Jack Rennert, Alain Weill, « Alphonse Mucha. Toutes les affiches & panneaux », Paris, Henri Veyrier, 1984, a set reproduced on p. 92-95.

Alphonse Mucha’s allegorical seasons

Mucha’s “Seasons” were printed in five different “states”, each with variations. A “state” is a version of an original work modified by the artist him/herself to change some of its aspects, in particular its composition. Multiplying “states” creates a fad that effectively whets collectors’ appetite.
Our set, which belongs to the 1st version can therefore be considered as the artist’s initial vision.
In this version, Mucha didn’t specify the names of the seasons, probably thinking that the images spoke for themselves. For instance, “Summer” is represented by a woman dipping her fee in a stream, whereas “Fall” is embodied by a beautiful redhead harvesting grapes. In these pictures, nature and humanity are blended into fantasized images.

The success of the Seasons

The names of the seasons were added in the second version; the third version, which sported a border made of interwoven branches, was silk-printed in a smaller size (33.8 x 53.5 cm). The demand for these prints was so high that Champenois, the printer, pushed his own sales strategy to another level, providing the images to an fellow printer in Philadelphia, PA who used them to illustrate a calendar printed in 1898. At least two more cycles of Mucha’s Seasons were printed by Champenois between 1897 and 1900. Essentially linked to nature, the theme of the four seasons has been a favorite of artists since the Renaissance and is often found in Mucha’s prints and in Art Nouveau creations in general.
For Mucha, “Winter” is a Vestal Virgin kindly warming up a bird in the palm of her hands, while cherry blossoms decorate the “Spring” poster.

An echo of the arts at the Belle Époque

Mucha’s Seasons can be seen as a decorative cycle in line with the aspirations of his time. His works were a source of inspiration for many artists in the 1900s, such as Prosper Tétrel, who provided the Société anonyme des Anciens établissements Desfossé & Karth with a drawing for a wallpaper entitled “Saison des fleurs” (Flower Seasons). Not only does the subject call to mind Mucha’s work, the pastel-toned outline and colors of the central drawing also confirm the undeniable influence of “Ms Sarah Bernhard’s Master Illustrator” on the arts of the Belle Époque.
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