Mucha’s work is a rediscovered and fully realized study of a young couple from the larger work, “Rusadla”, which illustrates a processional scene from a Slavic summer solstice festival.
At Toomey & Co. Art design auctioned on Thursday, December 2, 2021, a recently discovered oil on canvas by Alphonse Mucha was offered as the first lot of the auction with an estimate of $ 100,000 to $ 200,000. Given the overwhelming interest from bidders both nationally and internationally, the painting ultimately made $ 965,000, including the buyer’s premium, or nearly 10 times the estimated value. This price is an auction record for a study by Alphonse Mucha.
Mucha’s rediscovered work, “Young couple of Rusadla”, 1920, is a fully completed study of a young embracing couple that was part of a larger composition. The largest composition, titled Rusadla, illustrates a processional scene from a Slavic summer solstice festival. The two characters of “Young couple of Rusadla”Appear in the upper right corner of Rusadla, which is now lost but has been reproduced in the magazine Zlatá Praha July 30, 1919 (issue 45/46, p. 361).
Czech artist Alphonse Mucha was a very influential figure in the Art Nouveau movement in Paris which rose to fame in 1894 after creating a very popular lithographic advertising poster for the piece, Gismonda, with Sarah Bernhardt. Subsequently, Mucha devoted himself to the chronicle of the Slavic people and their history with his series of 20 paintings., Slavic epic.
In Rusadla, Mucha presents the procession of a Slavic holiday of the summer solstice, known as the Rusal or Rusalje week, which was associated with the Christian celebration of Pentecost. This larger painting features an encounter between Slavic peoples dressed in traditional white robes and fierce mermaids from pagan mythology, Rusalki, who were believed to promote fertility and successful harvests.
The fully developed original study, “Young couple of Rusadla”, 1920, which Toomey & Co. sold for $ 965,000 in Art design December 2, is a beautiful painting that stands on its own while expanding the scope of the larger lost painting, Rusadla. Mucha’s penchant for the embracing couple is clearly evident in their highly detailed portrayal, which takes place against a bright, green backdrop.
About auctioneers Toomey & Co.
Located just west of Chicago in Oak Park, Illinois, Toomey & Co. Auctioneers holds several carefully curated auctions each year with material from six departments: fine art, early 20th century design, modern design, fine furniture and decorative arts, silver and objects of Vertu and Haute Joaillerie & Horlogerie. Recent programs have featured sole proprietorship and special auctions drawn from significant estates and private collections.