How fantastic is this Mucha Zodiac?? It’s coming up for auction at Swann on 2/25
Sale 2339 Lot 100
ALPHONSE MUCHA (1860-1939) [ZODIAC.] 1896. 25 1/4x19 inches, 65 1/2x48 ¼ cm. [F. Champenois, Paris.] Condition B+ / A-: minor rippling in image; minor creases in margins. Paper. Matted and framed. With Zodiac, Mucha reaches the full maturity of his style, with every one of his signature design elements in their most fluid and elaborate incarnations. The image was originally published as a calendar by Champenois, but was quickly bought by La Plume, who began issuing it as a calendar with their own name at the top. The image was a huge success and was ultimately used for a variety of different advertising purposes. In all, seven different variations have been identified including this one, published by La Plume as a decorative panel. With this image, Champenois realized he could begin licensing out Mucha’s images to different companies, upon which they could imprint their own names, resulting in a very profitable side business for the printer who already owned all the rights to Mucha’s works. Rennert / Weill 19 var. 4, DFP-II 629 (var), Schardt p. 131 (var), Gold 97 (var).
In subdued pastels, this “quartet of barefoot young ladies represents the different times of the day. The borders are decorated in identical patterns … and the crisscross areas at the top have different floral panels. Each girl appears in an outdoor setting, with slender trees or tall flowers emphasizing her slim figure … The borders are worked out in such an exquisite pattern that each picture appears to be mounted in an elaborate frame of its own, or else seen through a decorated window. Quite possibly Mucha’s whole concept for the series was that of gothic stained-glass windows” (Rennert/Weill, p. 232). This larger-format variant does not include the bottom text indicating the individual time of day.