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Sale 2133 Lot 119
ALPHONSE MUCHA (1860-1939) LA TOSCA. 1898.
41 5/8x14 1/2 inches. Champenois, Paris.
Condition A-: horizontal fold. Framed.
In 1887, Sarah Bernhardt commissioned her close friend Victorien Sardou to write La Tosca. Although the tale has achieved near immortality through the Puccini opera based on the story (which premiered in 1900), Bernhardt successfully performed it as part of her repertoire for years. This particular poster advertised a run of the show that began in January 1899. The poster is a textbook example of the designs Mucha created for the actress; in the elongated format, a "halo" behind the actress's head and the text divided between the top and the bottom of the poster. However, the highly stylized decorative element of the swans heads reflects something totally new in Mucha's graphic vocabulary. "This is the only one of the posters for Sarah Bernhardt's play which exists only in the small format" (Rennert / Weill p. 221). Rennert / Weill 57.