Poster for 'Médée' (1898)

Here Mucha captures the compelling stage presence of Sarah Bernhardt in the famous Greek tragedy Medée.

Renewed for a contemporary Parisian audience by Catulle Mendes, the play tells how Medea discovers her husband Jason’s infidelity and kills their two children.

The substance of the tragedy is embodied in the tense, wide-eyed expression of the actress. The stylised landscape in the background shows the influence of the contemporary fashion for Japonisme, and heightens the exotic atmosphere of the drama.

The bracelet worn by Medea is the prototype of Mucha's Snake Bracelet (Sakai City Collection, Japan) commissioned by Sarah Bernhardt from the jeweller Georges Fouquet.