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XXme Exposition du Salon des Cent by Alphonse Mucha, Japon lithograph with gold ink, 1897


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Alphonse Mucha’s poster design for the Salon des Cent’s 20th exhibition, lithograph with gold ink detail on Japon paper, 1897. This work comes from the extremely scarce edition of 40 strikes on Imperial Japon paper, a mulberry bark-based stock inspired by the smooth-surfaced papers used in Japanese printmaking.

“The Salon des Cent was the most prestigious exhibition of posters in France, and was an extension of the equally respected magazine La Plume. The magazine and salon catered to the new enthusiasm for poster collecting; posters were originally meant for advertising and as a result were hung on the walls with animal glue and exposed to the elements, rendering them worthless in short order. Imaginative entrepreneurs followed as the posters were being glued up, and quickly pulled them down as the craftsman continued onto the next hoarding–this process of ripping the posters off the walls to earn a quick buck is the origin of the term "rip off artist" and its practice reveals how manic the demand was for these artworks in any condition. Salon des Cent and La Plume offered a venue to view poster art properly and purchase freshly printed copies.

Mucha was invited to design a poster for the Salon in 1896. Deshamps visited Mucha in his studio, and upon seeing the incomplete sketch insisted that it be published in its unfinished state–an excellent choice, as it even further increased Mucha's respect in the artistic community. Mucha held his first solo exhibition at the Galerie de la Bodinière early the following year, and on May 24, 1897 presented his first solo exhibition at the Salon des Cent with La Plume publishing a flowering introduction from Sarah Bernhardt: ‘I know my dear Parisian public... after your exhibition, I predict fame for you.’”
- Quoted from Thomas Negovan’s Le Pater: Alphonse Mucha's Symbolist Masterpiece and the Lineage of Mysticism (2019)

Artists who exhibited at the Salon des Cent included Alphonse Mucha, Henri Matisse, James Ensor, Eugene Grasset, Edgar Degas, Georges de Feure, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, and Gustave Moreau.

Paper measures 8 7/16 x 11 9/16 inches. Small, very faint bend in lower right margin. I mage remains impeccable. This piece is presented in an archival-quality rag mat and arrives accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

Notable museum collections include: Museum of Modern Art, New York (large-format version)
Notable museum collections featuring works by Alphonse Mucha include: Musée d'Orsay, Paris; Louvre Museum Graphic Art Database, Paris; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Mucha Museum, Prague, Czech Republic; and more.