1894 by Alfons Mucha
Christie’s Colour Library, London
Blume is an interesting painting, as it shows us Mucha’s work in its traditionally governed origin, his more classical form, opposed to the highly stylised Art Nouveau posters for which he most well known. Postcard thirty-nine is a good example, showing a figure seated, indeed held together, by her swooping stylistic surrounding. Her dress morphs into the linear design, deliberate decoration given in the corner plaques. Here there is no such pull of design, painting is soft and reflective, slightly romantic, reminiscent or indeed predictive of pre-Raphaelite painting, the delicate features of the girl much like Hunt’s or Waterhouse’s (postcard thirty-five). Mucha’s development of his own style however, is clear; though tonally varied and colourful, paint remains flat, pre-supposing Mucha’s later almost graphic approach to his poster-paintings. Material, in the girls’ dresses, is used for movement, pulling the central figure along, allowing the girl on the right to extend her arms for more blooms. Their attire is tied to them, elaborating action and personality, much like the later muses, whose dresses are always reflective of allegory and help to dramatically create the persona of their owners. Symbolism, or a statement of thematic concentration, is also used here, later we have ‘Music’ or ‘Art’ as this is Blume/Fleur. Despite the surrounding scene, all seems to be a focus to the cascading and plentiful flowers that are scattered throughout. The warmth of golden light that falls across the composition illuminates this unity, the acute beauty of the figures, emphasis of foliage in the foreground, all build to this central theme, embellishing their title, as Mucha made his later designs do. This work is a painterly premeditation of the later, more stylistically contrived, symbol-focused compositions.