At the turn of the 19th century, the artist Alphonse Mucha was at the height of his career. A fine artist, whose name is now synonymous with the art nouveau style, the Czech Mucha came from an illustration background and became widely and commercially well-known through his advertisements for everything from chocolate to cigarettes to laundry detergent.
Living in Paris, Mucha was also celebrated for his idealized female figures that were often based on Parisian film stars and glitterati, and his work included his years studying, drawing, and painting film actress and icon, Sarah Bernhardt. His portraits of her were printed as large-scale posters heralding his commercial work which took advantage of new advances in printing.
In 1887, the invention of celluloid film paved the way for Mucha to become the first artist to work directly from photography. Thusly, his color palette was often the rich, warm, pastel tones of photographs and he used these hues to create Mucha women with flowing hair that matched the flourish of his gorgeous lettering and typefaces.
Within this range of color emerges a signature eau de nil blue that Mucha used to clothe the women in lush drapery, illuminate the skies behind them, give them wings and surround them with waves of water.