Image: Les Saisons
Alphonse Maria Mucha was born on July 24, 1860 in the town of Ivancice, Moravia (now in the Czech Republic, then part of the Austrian Empire). He worked in Moravia, mostly painting theatrical scenery, then in 1879 moved to Vienna to work for a leading theatrical design company. When a fire destroyed this company in 1881 he returned to Moravia, where Count Karl Khuen of Mikulov hired Mucha to decorate Hrušovany Emmahof Castle with murals. Count Khuen was impressed enough that he agreed to sponsor Mucha's formal training at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. Mucha moved to Paris in 1887, and continued his studies at Académie Julian and Academie Colaross. Mucha produced a flurry of paintings, illustrations, designs and theatre sets in what came to be known as the Art Nouveau style. Mucha’s own style was often imitated. Mucha visited the USA from 1906 to 1910, and then returned to Czech lands where he decorated the Prague Theater of Fine Arts and other city landmarks. When Czechoslovakia won its independence after World War I, Mucha designed the postage stamps, banknotes, and other government documents for the new nation.