Leslie Carter, Stone Lithograph, c.1908, 82.5" × 30.8"
(Posters of this monumental size required printing on two joined sheets of standard poster paper.)
Provenance: The Estate of Robert Allan Haas: Hallmark Cards senior master artist Robert Allan Haas (American, 1950-2018) was an eminent scholar and authority on the subject of Alphonse Mucha (Czech, 1860-1939). Haas discovered Alphonse Mucha while a student at the Ringling College of Art and Design. Throughout his life as he pursued examples of period art by Mucha, he also maintained a friendly correspondence with Mucha’s family. His extensive archive of papers indicates that the Mucha family often sought his opinion on matters of authentication. He was extremely knowledgeable and very highly regarded in art circles.
Publisher: Strobridge Litho. Co., Cincinnati and New York
*This work has been meticulously restored by professional conservators, with no expense spared. Featuring brilliant, vivid colors, this is one of the finest examples available anywhere!
For this poster, one of the few that Mucha designed while living in America from 1904-1912, Mucha used the tall format and style of his Bernhardt posters in his design for the American silent film and stage actress, Mrs Leslie Carter. The actress Caroline Louise Dudley, oft referred to as the American Sarah Bernhardt, used her married name of Mrs. Leslie Carter as her stage name out of spite following her divorce from Chicago millionaire Leslie Carter. The poster announces her new play, Kassa, which tells the tale of a Hungarian virgin who intends to join a convent when she is then seduced by a prince and falls pregnant. The prince abandons her and she loses her mind. Mucha portrays the stunned Kassa surrounded by symbols: lilies to symbolise her former purity; red hearts to symbolise love and wreaths of thorns to symbolise suffering. Leslie Carter was an extravagant woman and aspiring actress whose incredible success was largely attributed to her charms and the shrewd way in which she applied them to her pursuits. Both Mucha and the author of this play were both so taken with her that they completed their work without prior compensation. Mucha designed the sets, costumes and handled the publicity for Kassa. (This life-sized poster for the play's New York release is the largest of Mucha’s American posters.) Sadly, the play was a flop, Mrs Leslie Carter was declared bankrupt and Mucha was never paid.
Strobridge Litho. Co. was, at the time, on the cutting edge of lithographic print production. With the invention of power machinery and the lithographic steam press, the company saw rapid growth. Strobridge would be the largest producer of circus and theatrical posters in the country and specialized in larger-than-life multi sheet works. Presumably crafting the first monumental multiple-sheet poster (16-sheets), which was exhibited at Fountain Square in Cincinnati, OH in 1878.
Ref: Rennert / Weill 94, Lendl p. 266, Brno 56, 150th Mucha 222, Mucha Grand Palais 327, Darmstadt 340, Arco p. 81, Mucha / Henderson 98, Mucha / Posters and Photographs 50 (var), Mucha / Bridges A55, Jiri Mucha p. 233, Spirit of Art Nouveau 33