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Title: Decorative documents.
Author : MUCHA Alfons (1860 - 1939)
Dimensions: Height 54.3cm - Width 40.3cm
Technique and other indications: Black pencil.
Storage location: Louvre Museum (Paris) website
Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot
Picture reference: 86-000187-02 / RF37321
© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot
Publication date: May 2006
After focusing on the making of posters, decorative panels, and on making costumes and theater sets, Alfons Mucha diversified his activity from 1895 with creations of stained glass, jewelry, furniture and pieces of goldsmith's work. . In 1902, the Central Library of Fine Arts published Decorative documents, a large collection of 72 drawings and watercolors in which the artist presents both meticulous studies of fauna, flora, human figures, but also sketches of friezes and wall decorations, as well as furniture, lighting , crockery and various utensils. In his preface to Decorative documents, Gabriel Mourey sums up his ambition perfectly: "For him decorative art would consist entirely of enhancing the meaning of line, form, material, ornamentation having as its main goal to give life to the material, the spiritualize […]. From the observed truth, he knows how to identify the essential features and form a new, personal synthesis from them, appropriate to the special destination it entails. "
"Chocolatière, cup and saucer, sugar tongs, sugar bowl, cutlery": this drawing is one of the preparatory studies published by Mucha. Made in black pencil enhanced with touches of white gouache on beige bristol board, this plate shows the artist's drawing talent, his graphic ability. His whole conception of the decorative arts appears here. His formal research, his line, his attention to detail and refinement, come together to transform everyday objects into poetic forms. The chocolate maker becomes a samovar with floral waves, while the handle of the coffee cup resembles a dragonfly's wing. On the sugar bowl, Mucha draws the head of an ibex. This taste for the bestiary can be found in the seats and fountain he created for the famous Fouquet jeweler's boutique as well as in the jewelry he designed at that time.
The overhead line cutlery also takes on the appearance of fantastic insects. In the second half of the XIXe century, new utensils appear: dishes and plates for artichokes, seashells, asparagus, menu holders, supports for bunches of grapes… The sugar tongs that Mucha is drawing here is one of these new “essential” objects. The journal editor The dining room writes: "One of these days someone will invent a fork-lifting instrument, or the horror of using one's fingers will be an excuse for making table gloves! "
For bourgeois society in the second half of the 19th centurye century, the content of cupboards and dressers constitutes a criterion of wealth and social promotion. At this time, tableware experienced a spectacular increase in their distribution. Indeed, thanks to the progress of industry, to the improvement of tools and manufacturing processes, ceramics, glassware, silverware and silverware are developing widely. The discovery of electroplating, a process which allows the manufacture of a silver metal, inexpensive, in non-noble alloys but retains the quality criteria of traditional goldsmithing, in particular causes a small revolution in the world of silverware. . Charles Christofle was the first to produce this imitation goldsmith's work. His factory, which employed 100 workers in 1854, had 1,500 in 1878. Like the other great silversmiths of the time - such as Froment-Meurice, Duponchel or Fannière - his ambition is to combine mass production and research artistic. Thanks to the succession of Universal and International Exhibitions, industrialists and craftsmen compete for originality in their creations. In terms of style and form, the decorative arts of this period were greatly influenced by Japanese art, starting with the Vienna World Expo of 1873. The Japanese pavilion has indeed marked the minds of many designers. The goldsmith's pieces are then covered with floral or animal motifs, the lines undulate, the ubiquitous plants are intertwined on all sides, the arabesque reigns supreme. From 1905, this Art Nouveau style, as illustrated by Mucha's drawings, declined in favor of a purification of lines and the elimination of any frills made to magnify the purity of the material.
- Decorative Art
- Art Nouveau
René BRIAT, Les Styles français. Objects: Tableware from the Renaissance to the Modern Style, Paris, Baschet & Cie, coll. "Plaisir de France", 1968.Zeev GOURARIER, Arts et manners de table en Occident, des origins à nos jours, Thionville, Éd.Gérard Klopp, 1994. À table! Tableware in the collections of the Mandet museum in Riom, 17th-19th centuries, catalog of the exhibition at the Mandet museum in Riom, June-December 1996, Paris, RMN, 1997.
To cite this article
Isabelle COURTY, "Mucha and the arts of the table"