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Lot 96: ALPHONSE MUCHA (1860-1939). LA TOSCA. 1898. 40x13 inches, 101x35 cm. F. Champenois, Paris.
January 26, 2017
New York, NY, USALive Auction
ALPHONSE MUCHA (1860-1939) LA TOSCA. 1898.
40x13 3/4 inches, 101 1/2x35 cm. F. Champenois, Paris.
Condition B+: repaired tears at edges; minor skinning and paper remnants in lower text; minor water stain in lower right corner; small abrasion in left margin; repaired pin holes in corners; paper stamp in lower image. Matted and framed. Unexamined out of frame.
In 1887, Sarah Bernhardt commissioned her close friend Victorien Sardou to write La Tosca. Although the tale has achieved near immortality through the Puccini opera based on the story (which premiered in 1900), Bernhardt successfully performed it as part of her repertoire for years. This particular poster advertised a run of the show that began in January 1899. The poster is a textbook example of the designs Mucha created for the actress, with its the elongated format, a "halo" behind the actress'' head and the text divided between the top and the bottom of the poster. However, the highly stylized decorative element of the swan heads reflects something totally new in Mucha''s graphic vocabulary. "This is the only one of the posters for Sarah Bernhardt''s play which exists only in the small format" (Rennert / Weill p. 221). This lot bears the overprint for a single performance on July 4th, 1899 at the Casino Villa des Fleurs in Belgium. Rennert / Weill 57, Lendl p. 57, Brno 40, Mucha Grand Palais 117, Darmstadt 107, Mucha / Henderson 89, Mucha / Bridges A43, Triumph des Jugendstils 16, DFP-II 647.