The publisher Century Guild is releasing a reprint of Alphonse Mucha’s Symbolist Masterpiece, La Pater, originally published in 1899. The posted description says:
In 1899 Alphonse Mucha created an intensely personal series of occult-themed artworks as a love letter to the close of the century and a message of hope to the future.
This mystical and non-denominational exploration, titled Le Pater, was both praised and reviled by Mucha’s contemporaries as his most controversial and meaningful work.
Published in an edition of 510 copies on December 20, 1899, Mucha called his visionary interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer “the thing I have put my soul into.” Now, 120 years later, Le Pater is celebrated as his rarest and most powerful creation.
Le Pater: Alphonse Mucha’s Symbolist Masterpiece and the Lineage of Mysticism offers an unprecedented view of Alphonse Mucha’s Le Pater in a beautiful and dramatic presentation of ultra-clear, high resolution images captured directly from the original 1899 artworks.
Featuring a thorough historical narrative outlining mystical symbolism from Albrecht Dürer and Wiliam Blake to the 19th century occult artworks of the Salon Rose+Croix, the artworks and theories of Jacob Böhme, Robert Fludd, and the Invisible College, and the codings of sacred geometry and Hermeticism, author Thomas Negovan provides readers with the language necessary to interpret the symbols and imagery of Alphonse Mucha’s artworks.
With photographs from private collections that have never before been printed, rare historical artifacts, mystical artworks, and Mucha’s original sketches and theories, Le Pater: Alphonse Mucha’s Symbolist Masterpiece and the Lineage of Mysticism is a beautiful tribute to the artist who defined the Art Nouveau movement and a necessary addition to every art book collection.
ABOUT ALPHONSE MUCHA’S LE PATER
By December 20, 1899, Alphonse Mucha had experienced four years as the most recognizable proponent of Art Nouveau graphics and the most celebrated illustrator in Paris. The massive output of the artist in his first four years in the advertising and decorative world earned much for Mucha’s publisher but very little for the artist himself.
As the end of the century grew near, Alphonse Mucha insisted upon the release of a deeply personal work, and printed 510 copies of what he for the remainder of his life considered his works-on-paper masterpiece, Le Pater.
Decidedly non-denominational, Mucha’s exploration features a female deity protecting humankind and a number of sophisticated occult themes across a series of images of mystical illustrations.
Unlike the advertising art that had dominated Mucha’s output since his “discovery” by Sarah Bernhardt in late 1894, Mucha described this series of images to a New York reporter as “the thing I have put my soul into.” (The Sun newspaper, 5 January, 1900)
Mucha’s previous artworks were lithographed on numerous mediums ranging from paper to silk, in multiple formats; Mucha’s publisher Champenois saw that Mucha was the most printed artist in Paris in the late 1890s. Mucha’s concern, understandably, was likely that the imagery of his spiritual work would be capitalized upon. By 1899, he had earned the right to demand that the Le Pater images would be produced in an edition of only 510 copies, and subsequently saw the plates destroyed- ensuring the work would never be reprinted for mass-market purposes.
The images from Le Pater are mentioned in numerous Mucha books as his masterpieces and are universally acknowledged alongside his massive Slav Epic paintings as his finest work. However, as a result of Mucha’s forced limitation of the publication of this masterwork, the rarity of the lithographs means that most books are limited to mentioning the images in the text and leaving the reader to wonder what these “lost masterpieces” might look like.
The original promotional materials for the Le Pater series name these artworks as of “rare interest and considerable importance”. Over 115 years later, the description continues to ring true.