Alphonse Mucha’s instantly recognizable works feature beautiful women with long tendrils of hair and flowing garments surrounded by decorative botanical motifs in delicate shades of peach, gold and ochre. The Czech artist originally found fame via his stunningly original poster designs for the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt but is best known today for his innovative advertisements, posters, and decorative works.
Mucha was born in 1860 in the small Moravian town of Ivančice, then one of the Slavic provinces of the Austrian Habsburg Empire. Following his rejection from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague Mucha was forced to earn a living as an apprentice scene painter in Vienna. His talents eventually caught the eye of two local counts, whose patronage allowed him to gain formal training in Munich, and later in Paris.
Whilst in Paris in 1894, the legendary stage actress Sarah Bernhardt commissioned Mucha to design a poster for Gismonda, a Greek melodrama she was to star in and direct. A delighted Bernhardt invited Mucha to serve as artistic director of her theatre, designing posters, stage sets, costumes, and jewellery for her productions. Mucha created an additional six posters for Bernhardt.
The Parisian printer Ferdinand Champenois recognized the commercial possibilities of Mucha’s style and offered the artist an exclusive commercial contract. Mucha went on to design posters for brands such as JOB cigarette papers (1896), Chocolat Idéal (1897), and Moët & Chandon (1899).
In 1910 Mucha returned to his homeland after a 25-year absence. Mucha was able to present the completed Slav Epic to the city of Prague in 1928, 10 years after the founding of an independent Czechoslovakia. Tragically, only 11 years later, the Nazis marched into the city. As a prominent Czech patriot, Mucha was arrested and questioned by the Gestapo. In weak health and with his spirit broken, he died shortly after his release.
Mucha’s artwork can be found in many places in Prague including the Municipal House, the National art gallery, and even his design of a stained-glass window in the St. Vitus’ Cathedral in Prague. But there is no better place to go to see Mucha’s famous art than the Mucha museum in the centre of Prague.
The Mucha Museum is the only museum that is fully dedicated to Mucha’s work, it was created in 1998 by the Mucha Foundation and has a large selection of original Mucha lithographs, posters, canvases and paintings along with the history and timeline behind them.
It is only a small exhibitions space, about 500 m2, so it doesn’t take long to look around depending on how much time you would like to spend admiring Mucha’s work. If like us, you are an admirer of Art Nouveau and Mucha then this is a great place to stop and while away some time.
There is no photography allowed in the museum so the shots below are from TresBohemes.com
Planning your visit to the Mucha Museum
Best time to visit the Czech Republic
Peak tourist season in the Czech Republic coincides with the summer months when temperatures are pleasantly warm and humid with occasional thunderstorms. Between May and September the Czech Republic is at its busiest with major festivals held at this time to benefit from the good weather.
The early spring months of March and April can be unpredictable when it comes to the weather. The winter snows are beginning to melt and temperatures begin to rise above freezing but it can still be quite chilly with strong winds. The autumn months of October and November can be equally as unpredictable with temperatures starting to drop although the countryside comes alive with colour.
Winters in the Czech Republic are cold, cloudy, icy and wet with freezing temperatures. It’s still possible to visit most of the country’s monuments though opening hours are reduced.
Vegan dining ideas
1. VEGAN’S PRAGUE
Vegan’s Prague is found in a 16th-century building near Prague Castle on Nerudova street. It is a narrow building with the restaurant located on the first and second floors (second and third floors for my American friends), which are accessed with a steep and winding staircase. There is no elevator so disabled access is almost impossible.
Our favourite areas in the restaurant were the top floor, with its sloping roof, and from there the terrace which has a spectacular view across to Prague Castle.
The top floor room has exposed beams with simple furnishings and gets ample light from the numerous skylights that have been put into the roof.
The outdoor terrace is simply the best place to be. It is small and intimate, with only about four tables, so you will have to be lucky to get a table there.
Located close to the historic Old Town Square in Prague, Forkys is a vegan bistro with international recipes, serving breakfast until 11 am, then burgers, kebab, hot dogs, bowls, and a daily menu. This is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat, with great energy to boot. I loved the wall at the entrance that lists all the famous people who have been vegan, dating from ancient Rome to the present day.
Small takeaway health food bistro in the city centre since 2017. The menu is based raw vegan and cooked vegan cuisine. Serves lemonade, smoothies, milkshakes, raw spreads on sourdough, veggie wraps, summer rolls, salads, and raw desserts.
Where to stay
1. U PÁVA
For our stay in Prague, we wanted to stay close to the city centre as we planned to walk everywhere. After looking around on hotel booking websites I decided to book a room at U Páva – which means ‘At the Peacock’ in Czech. The hotel is ideally placed to explore the surrounding markets, museums and historic buildings of Mala Strana, but it’s also just a 15-minute stroll across the bridge to the Old Town. It is only a 10-minute walk to Prague Castle.
U Páva is an intimate four-star hotel, located right next to Charles bridge, offering 26 romantically inclined rooms in a historical building, parts of which date back to the late 15th century.
2. BOAT HOTEL MATYLDA
For something more unusual you should consider Boat Hotel Matylda.
Lying at anchor on the Vltava river in the centre of Prague, 0.6 miles from the Charles Bridge and a 10-minute stroll from the Charles Square
Standard double rooms are situated on the original Matylda boat. This boat also has a bar and the well-known restaurant with a summer terrace serving Italian cuisine. The other rooms are to be found on the newer Klotylda boat.
Each of the cabins on the two boats features an elegant interior design with hardwood floors. Some have their own private balcony and dark leather armchairs.
The Boat Hotel is situated in the vicinity of the famous Dancing House, right next to the tram stop Jiraskovo namesti and 1,000 feet away from Karlovo namesti metro station.
3. CHARLES BRIDGE HOSTEL & APARTMENTS
For the more budget-conscious the Charles Bridge Hostel and Apartments is a good option
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel is a small boutique guesthouse located in the very heart of the historic centre of Prague, right at the Charles Bridge. All important sights are within walking distance of the property. The building comes from the 14th century and belongs to protected cultural heritage.
Rooms and dorms are fully furnished and have been recently remodelled. A kitchen is located on all floors and inside all private rooms. Bedsheets, linen, towels and toiletries are provided free of charge.
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel provides free tours daily at 6 pm, as well as a free Ghost Tour. Luggage storage is available for free. The laundry facility and dryer is available for an extra fee.