Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

Today in History: Alphonse Maria Mucha is born in 1860

160 years ago today, the talented Czech Art Nouveau poster artist, illustrator, and designer was born. Mucha initially worked as a theatrical scene painter in Vienna before a benefactor discovered his talents and financed his art studies in Munich and Paris. Mucha stayed in Paris where he designed his first posters. His breakthrough came in 1894 when he created the famous Gismonda poster starring Sarah Bernhardt. The actress was so impressed with Mucha’s work that she offered him a 6-year contract which paved the road for the artist’s subsequent success. Over the next 15 years, Mucha became the model Art Nouveau artist, creating posters, advertisements, calendars, postcards, and magazine and book illustrations. His work typically featured beautiful women surrounded by elaborate flowers. Mucha returned to live in Czechoslovakia around 1910 where he produced his masterpiece, a set of 20 mural paintings, the Slav Epic, depicting the history of his nation. He died in 1939, several months after being arrested and interrogated by the Nazis, following Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia.

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Today in History: Jules Cheret born in 1836

Today in History: Jules Cheret born in 1836

184 years ago today, French painter and lithographer, Jules Cheret, was born in Paris. Cheret became a master of Belle Epoque poster art and is often called the father of the modern poster.

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Art History: Eugene Grasset born in 1845

Art History: Eugene Grasset born in 1845

The acclaimed Swiss decorative poster artist would turn 175 years old if he were still alive today. Grasset (25 May 1845 – 23 October 1917) studied drawing and architecture and worked as a painter and sculptor before he moved to Paris in 1871. It was not until the late 1870s that Grasset became interested in graphic design. He created  his first posters in the mid- to late-1880s. Grasset was famous for his classical portrayal of women. His poster works are considered cornerstones of the Art Nouveau movement.

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Today in History: First Stamp released in 1840

Today in History: First Stamp released in 1840

180 years ago today, the world’s first postage stamp – the Penny Black – was released. An English teacher named Rowland Hill and was largely responsible for this minor postal revolution. In 1837, Hill recommended to price deliveries by weight, rather than the distance traveled and the size of the letter or package as had been customary. While his plan was dismissed by the postmaster and the government, merchants, traders and bankers viewed the existing postal system as corrupt and restraining and pushed for Hill’s plans to be given a chance. One year after the the passage of the Penny Postage Bill in 1839, Great Britain became the first county to produce an adhesive postage stamp: the 1d. Penny Black. During it one year in use, over 68 million stamps were printed. The stamp was an instant success with the public. Within seven months, over 160 million letters had been sent, doubling the number of letters sent in the previous year.

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Today in History: Ukraine Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in 1986

Today in History: Ukraine Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in 1986

On this day in 1986, an explosion and fire at the No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine resulted in a nuclear meltdown sending radioactivity into the atmosphere. The radiation fallout spread throughout Europe. Within 48 hours, monitoring stations in Sweden, Finland and Norway began reporting sudden high discharges of radioactivity in the atmosphere. After two days, the Soviet Union, via the official news agency, Tass, admitted there has been an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The Chernobyl disaster is considered the largest nuclear accident in history.

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Today in History: Ireland Bans Smoking in Workplace

Today in History: Ireland Bans Smoking in the Workplace

In 2004, Ireland becomes the first country to ban smoking in all workplaces. Contrary to initial concerns, the ban had no adverse economic effects, and soon several other countries passed similar legislation. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco smoke is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally.

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Today in History: Adolfo Hohenstein born in 1854

Today in History: Adolfo Hohenstein born in 1854

Adolfo Hohenstein was a painter, illustrator, and set designer. He was born in Saint Petersburg, capital of the Russian Empire, to German parents, Julius and Laura Irack. Adolfo grew up and studied in Vienna. In 1879, he settled down in Milan, Italy, where he worked as a set and costume designer for La Scala and other theatres. In 1889 he began to work for the Ricordi Graphical Workshops where he created numerous posters theatrical (f. ex. La Boheme, Tosca) and advertising (f. ex. Campari, Mele) posters. Together with Leonetto Cappiello, Giovanni Mario Mataloni, Leopoldo Metlicovitz, and Marcello Dudovich, Hohenstein is considered one of the most important Italian poster designers.

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Today in History: Ireland established (renamed) in 1937

Today in History: Ireland established (renamed) in 1937

A new constitution, established by a national referendum, changed the name of the Irish Free state to Ireland. The Irish Free State was a part of the British Commonwealth and was established in 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty signed in 1921. The new constitution completed a process of gradual separation from the British Empire that governments had pursued since independence. However, it was not until 1949 that the state was declared, officially, to be the Republic of Ireland.

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Today in History: Theophile Steinlen born in 1859

Today in History: Theophile Steinlen born in 1859

Theophile Alexandre Steinlen (November 10, 1859 – December 13, 1923) was a Swiss-born French Art Nouveau painter and printmaker. Steinlen studied at the University of Lausanne before taking a job as a designer trainee at a textile mill in Mulhouse in eastern France. In his early twenties, he moved to the artistic community in Paris where he was befriended by the painter Adolphe Willette. The latter introduced him to the artistic crowd at Le Chat Noir that led to his commissions to do poster art for the cabaret owner/entertainer, Aristide Bruant and other commercial enterprises. Steinlen had hist “poster breakthrough” with his work for the cabaret artists Mothu et Doria (1893); one of his best-known images was “Lait pur Sterilise” (1894). Steinlen became a regular contributor to Le Rire and Gil Blas magazines plus numerous other publications including L’Assiette au Beurre and Les Humouristes. Between 1883 and 1920, he produced hundreds of illustrations, a number of which were done under a pseudonym so as to avoid political problems because of their harsh criticisms of societal ills. Steinlen died in 1923 in Paris and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre.

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Today is National Liqueur Day

Today is National Liqueur Day

A liqueur is a strong alcoholic beverage that has been sweetened with herbs, fruits, nuts, cream, or spices. Liqueurs are traditionally served as after-dinner drinks or mixed with coffee. The word “liqueur” comes from the Latin word “liquifacere,” which means “to dissolve or melt.” As early as 400 BC, the Egyptians and Greeks distilled wine to produce fortified spirits. They sweetened this concoction with cinnamon and honey—a combination that we still use today to create mead. In the thirteenth century, European monks and alchemists perfected the distillation process used to create liqueur. The liquid was primarily used for medicinal purposes. Source: punchbowl.com

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