Gismonda, Victorien Sardou's four-act play, was premiered in the autumn of 1894 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. Sarah Bernhardt was both director and actor. This poster by Mucha was produced to promote the new production which opened on 4 January, 1895.
Mucha portrayed Bernardt as an exotic Byzantine noblewoman wearing a splendid gown and an orchid headdress with a palm branch in her hand. This costume was worn in the last act, the climax of the play, where she joined the Easter procession. Placing her life-size figure on an arched platform, Mucha rendered the beauty and dignity of her personality onstage rather than representing her realistic features or the story.
Delighted with Mucha's design, Bernhardt continued to use this poster for her American tour in 1896.