Alfons Mucha (1860 - 1939)

Lot 86: ALPHONSE MUCHA (1860-1939). BÉNÉDICTINS DE SOULAC. Circa 1896. 14x11 inches, 36x29 cm. F. Champenois, Paris.

Swann Auction Galleries

January 26, 2017
New York, NY, US

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Description: ALPHONSE MUCHA (1860-1939) BÉNÉDICTINS DE SOULAC. Circa 1896.
14 1/2x11 1/2 inches, 36 3/4x29 1/4 cm. F. Champenois, Paris.
Condition B / B-: expertly-recreated text panel; creases, restoration and overpainting in image; minor smudging and discoloration in margins and image; metal grommets in top margin. Printed on card. Matted and framed. Unexamined out of frame.
"The most elusive of all Mucha posters" (Rennert / Weill p. 66). Until the mid-1980s, this poster was "known to us only from a single reproduction in the pages of La Plume magazine and from a listing in the Salon des Cent exhibition of 1897" (ibid). When the Moravian Galerie held their big exhibition of Mucha''s works in Brno in 1979, this poster was represented in the catalogue without any dimensions or description of its colors with the caption: "This poster exists only as a period reproduction." Advertising dental hygiene products, the image depicts a monk consulting an ancient botanical book, clearly scouring its pages for important ingredients for their toothpastes. The image reproduced in La Plume shows the blank space at the bottom right as being an intricately carved piece of wood - either the side of the chair the monk is sitting in or the door to a cabinet. Here, that area has been cut out and replaced with a blank piece of paper. This is the first time this poster has appeared at auction and only the second copy we have been able to locate, the other being part of the Ivan Lendl Collection. This copy is the only one to have the grommets intact at top. The copy in the Lendl collection has the same missing area in the lower right part of the image. The question remains as to why La Plume saw fit to illustrate this atypical poster of Mucha''s in the first place. rare. Rennert / Weill 9, Brno 18, Mucha / Henderson 118, Mucha / Bridges A32, Jiri Mucha p. 85, Lendl p. 108.
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