Sarah Berhnardt played Lorenzino de’ Medici in Alfred de Musset’s Loranzacchio. In the play, Lorenzino plots to assassinate his cousin, Duke Alessandro de’ Medici, in order reestablish the Republic of Florence. Though the assassination is ultimately carried out, the conspiracy accomplishes nothing. Lorenzino’s reputation is tarnished, and the ducal crown is passed to Cosimo de Medici. Loranzacchio was staged not long after the overthrow of Charles X by Louis Philippe I, whose ascendance likewise represented a missed opportunity for French republicans.
Alphonse Mucha’s first poster for Bernhardt, advertising an extended run of the play Gismonda, created an immediate sensation. Enamored of his work, she signed him to a six-year contract, during which he designed six more posters, all of which feature the full-standing figure of the actress against the backdrop of an elongated alcove.