Gismonda - 1894


This vintage French poster is an example of "Affiche Artistique", advertising the performance of Sarah Bernhardt.  The artist is Alphonse Mucha, published in 1894.

Dimensions:  9" x 24"

Item# Title Choose: Shp Wt Price Click to buy
1W-ART-015-1 Gismonda, 1894 Archival Paper 2 lbs. $29.95 Add to Basket
1W-ART-015-5 Gismonda, 1894 Repositionable Peel & Stick Fabric* 2 lbs. $39.95 Add to Basket
*Peel & Stick: Repositionable self-adhesive fabric that resists water, wrinkles and tears. Can be repositioned with ease without damaging walls. No need for screws, tape or push-pins, simply peel and stick.  

Artists in the late 1800s found opportunities to present their work to the masses through advertising art that began to appear as billboards and posters, plastering the streets of Paris.  “Affiche Artistique” was the term that the French used to describe a poster that contained artistic expression.  The art was so impressive to the public, people began to collect the posters as soon as they went up, which is why they are so scarce today.  Artists such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha, Jules Chéret, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Pierre Bonnard and Eugène Grasset contributed to the creative body of work that became what some called  “a free museum for the masses”.  The craze for collecting these examples of modern art was even given the name, "affichomanie", meaning “artistic poster mania”.  Collectors today pay hundreds, if not thousands for original prints of these rare posters. 

We offer these exceptional vintage poster reproductions in the highest possible print quality.  Superior to most reproductions currently available on the market, our gallery quality prints are suitable for display in an art gallery or museum.  We begin with an ultra high resolution scan of the original artifact which we leave untouched, leaving intact the slightly distressed vintage character desirable in a collectible piece of this era.  Our state of the art, giclée reproduction process uses the latest technology: microscopic droplets of ink that render such a high resolution, that every minute detail of the original is intact.  Every pen line and brush stroke is visible.  Even very faint pencil lines are also visible due to the incredibly high quality of the reproduction process.  Our 8 color, archival quality inks and giclée printing process provide the most accurate color reproduction & are proven to last over a hundred years. Posters are available printed on museum quality archival paper or on repositionable media that allow you to plaster your walls with the “Affiche Artistique”, just as they were originally intended to be displayed. 

About the artist:

Alphonse Mucha
Czech, 1860-1939

 Alphonse Maria Mucha was born in Ivančice, Moravia.  As a young man, he was sponsored to study at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts before arriving in Paris in 1887, where he continued his studies at Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi.

He volunteered his services when he happened to hear of an urgent need for a poster to advertise a new play at the Théâtre de la Renaissance. He seized the opportunity and completed the project within two weeks.  Mucha’s poster for Sarah Bernhardt’s Gismonda in 1894 launched his career as a successful artist in Paris.  Sarah Bernhardt herself was so pleased with his artwork that she began a six-year contract with Mucha to produce her posters.

Mucha’s designs began to be applied to jewelry, carpets and wallpaper as well as posters and illustrations in books and advertisements.  His use of pale pastels and classically styled beauties became known as the Mucha Style, and then as Art Nouveau (New Art).

Mucha was dissatisfied that his commercial work achieved such success, while he desired to communicate a spiritual message through art.  After marrying Marušca Chytilová in Prague in 1906, Mucha and his new bride traveled to the U.S., where they remained for four years.  Mucha became devoted to promoting Slavic nationalism and returned to Prague, where he was commissioned to decorate the Theatre of Fine Arts.  Mucha designed the new postage stamps, banknotes and other documents for the newly independent state of Czechoslovakia after World War I.

Mucha’s final fine art masterpiece, The Slav Epic, took many years to complete.  It is a series of twenty large paintings that depict the history of the Slavic people.  A lifelong dream of Muchas to create, he presented his masterpiece to the city of Prague in 1928.

Mucha was one of the first arrested by the Gestapo when Czechoslovakia was occupied by German troops in 1939.  Eventually released, he died the same year of pneumonia, possibly weakened by the events of his arrest and interrogation.


Sarah Bernhardt
French, (1844 -1923)

Rosine Bernardt, the woman who was to be introduced as “the most famous actress the world has ever known” began life as the illegitimate child of Jewish mother Julie Bernardt, who worked as a courtesan in Paris.  Sarah Bernhardt added the “H” to her last name and took the name Sarah as her stage name, beginning her acting career in 1862 while a student at Comédie Française.  She traveled to Belgium where she became the mistress of Henri, Prince de Ligne.  Sarah gave birth to the prince’s son, Maurice, in 1864.  Although the prince wanted to marry her, his family was against the union and convinced Sarah to end their relationship.

 Bernhardt began performing at the Théâtre de L’Odéon in 1866.  In 1870, when the Franco-Prussian war began, Sarah is credited with converting the theatre into a makeshift hospital and taking care of wounded soldiers there.  Throughout the 1870’s Bernhardt’s success climbed.  She traveled all over Europe and even to Cuba, where she performed in Matanzas’ Sauto Theater in 1887.

In 1899, Sarah Bernhardt opened the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt on the Place du Châtelet in Paris.  She earned the title “The Divine Sarah” following the premiere of her performance in the title role of “Hamlet”.  The play was four hours long and received rave reviews.

Bernhardt continued to act and produce plays until her death in 1923.  She starred in eight motion pictures including the film of 1912, “Sarah Bernhadt á Belle-Isle”, a film about her daily life.  Her theatre’s name was changed to “Théâtre de la Cité” by the Germans in World War II, because of her Jewish ancestry.