Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860 - 1939) is most remembered for his prominent role in shaping the aesthetics of French Art Nouveau at the turn of the century. As a struggling and unknown artist of Czech origin living in Paris, Mucha shot to fame in December 1894 when he accepted a commission to create a poster for Sarah Bernhardt, referred to as "one of the greatest stage actresses in the history of the world". The success of the first poster brought in a six years contract with Bernhardt and his name was soon spread out of Europe.
In 1910, Mucha returned to the then independent state of Czechoslovakia where he dedicated the remaining of his life to the production of the "Slav Epic", a series of 20 paintings depicting the history of the Slav people. He was arrested in 1939 by the Gestapo when the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia, and died shortly after on 14 July, 1939. He is buried at the Vysehrad cemetery.
Mucha's work included costumes and stage decorations, designs for magazines and book covers, jewellery, furniture and numerous posters of sorts. State commissioned projects were postage stamps and bank notes, murals for the Prague Town Hall and a stained glass window in the St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague.