Alphonse Mucha was one of the most famous of the Art Nouveau painters. His rise to fame began when he was asked to create a poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s play Gismonda. He experimented with the new style of painting he was working on which had as its characteristics: strong composition, sensuous curves, highly decorative elements and natural colors. His poster was a huge success. Sarah Bernhardt was so pleased with it that she contracted him to design all the posters, sets and costumes for her plays for the next six years.
In many ways, Poetry, is typical of the Art Nouveau style and contains all of the elements implicit in this genre. The colors are not exaggerated at all. They are lovely, pale and natural. Her skin is pale. The blue of her dress is like the sky and the gold of her hair blends in with the gold of the background. The dress itself, the woman and the details surrounding her are extremely decorative. It is a very feminine painting. Also the curves in the painting are extraordinarily pleasing to the eye. There is nothing hard or angular to this painting. The painting flows as does the hair of the woman and her dress and her posture. The arc that circles above her head gives one the impression she is sitting high in the air on a swing. Even though the painting itself appears to be light and airy, Poetry herself is quite substantial looking. There is nothing airy or fairy-like about this very solid and beautiful woman. Poetry sits like the Muse she is, as beautiful as a poem staring pensively off into her minds eye.
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