Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

The Flowers of Alphonse Mucha: Symbolic Connections Between Nature, Mysticism, Religion, and the Occult
Cynthia Wills
Art/Art History
Faculty Mentor(s):
Leisa Rundquist, Laurel Taylor and Tracey Rizzo
Abstract / Summary:
From 1890 to 1910, an artistic movement began to take shape throughout Europe known as Art Nouveau. An influential artist during the movement was Czech artist Alphonse Mucha who moved to France in 1888 to attend Académie Julian and developed a body of work that paired feminized figures alongside flowers. Studies surrounding his work focus on his figures and his connections with fraternities such as the Freemasons. While significant, these studies overlook other aspects of his work that open new discussion into the multiple influences present in Mucha’s floral imagery. Specifically, this paper analyzes his floral motifs that appear in his lithographic series and publication titled The Flowers and Le Pater, created in 1897 and 1899 respectively, and contextualizes these series within the artist’s interests in nature, mysticism, religion, and the occult. Accordingly, Mucha’s childhood interest in religion is investigated as they led to nurturing his curiosity in the occult and theosophy. Furthermore, this study will discuss acquaintances he made while living in France and his introduction to the previously mentioned concepts, the Symbolist movement, and groups such as the Freemasons and Roerich society. In addition, publications released during a similar time frame aid in examining the topic of floriography as supplementary material to interpret Mucha’s inclusions in The Flowers and La Pater as publications on floral language had garnered popularity. In conclusion, analysis of these series in correlation with floriography and Mucha’s background and interests will show the importance of the floral motifs that were previously believed to be merely decorative.
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