TÊTE BYZANTINE – BRUNETTE

Alphonse Mucha
TÊTE BYZANTINE – BRUNETTE
lithograph
1897

An original Alphonse Mucha lithograph print.

1897

Original lithograph printed in colors on wove paper

Signed on the stone lower left Mucha.

A superb impression of the first of five variants of the original version of this lithograph, with the ornate background design added outside the circular image to create the rectangular, non commercial format of a decorative panel.  Published and printed by F. Champenois, Paris.

Catalog: Rennert/Weill 40.1,var. 1; Bridges P15a.

20 5/8 x 14 ½ inches

Sheet Size: 23 15/16 x 17 ½ inches

According to the registration in the Department of Listed Prints in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the pair of decorative panels Byzantine Heads was produced in the first months of 1897.  The images became so popular that soon they were followed by many variations differing in the framing décor and the paper format.  A year after the panels were made, the images were applied to decorative plates.  Mucha must have liked them, as the plates were in his ateliers in New York and in Zbiroh.
The mastery evident in creating two archetypes of female form against a decorative background confirms Mucha’s artistic maturity.  Both women in this set, portrayed in profile, have their heads decorated with beautiful jewelry, the richness and oriental beauty of which suggested the name Byzantine Heads. 
An intricate tiara with pendants decorating “Brunette” presages Mucha’s later jewelry designs.  This kind of panel brought him to the attention of the jeweler Georges Fouquet, who was fascinated by Mucha’s unbounded imagination and the splendor of his ideas.