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Slav Epic back in Prague

photo:  (wikimedia.org)

The Slav Epic is a master cycle of twenty large canvases which depict scenes from the history of Czechs and other Slavic peoples, painted by renowned Czech Art Noveau painter and graphic artist Alfons Mucha.

Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) is considered as one of the most significant European artists of the 19th and 20th century. His creations greatly contributed to establishment of the European secession style. In addition to the Slav Epic, he is an author of hundreds of posters, book illustrations, advertisements and decorations. Reproductions of his paintings have appeared on wrappings, postal stamps and banknotes.

The Slav Epic is Mucha’s most famous work. He created his masterpiece in Zbiroh Castle in western Bohemia when he returned from the United States. After 18 years of work (1910-1928), the monumental work of art comprised twenty gigantic canvases – ten of them depicting Czech topics and the other ten dealing with Slavic themes in general. The largest canvases are 6 m high and 8 m wide. He would use marine canvas delivered from Belgium. Originally, the paintings should have had the same dimensions but when the First World War began, it was difficult to deliver the canvas so some of the paintings created by Alfons Mucha are smaller.

The Slav Epic cycle was completed in the spring of 1928 and the artist handed over the finished work to the Czechoslovak nation and to the city of Prague.

The paintings survived the Second World War in Prague but were considerably damaged due to moisture. Thus in 1950 they were moved to southern Moravia, to the small town of Moravský Krumlov, several kilometres from Mucha’s native town of Ivančice. The paintings were kept at the renaissance chateau, restored and, since 1963, displayed as well.

In 2011, based on a decision by the City Gallery Prague – the administrator of the work – the Slav Epic was moved back to Prague.
Author: Ivana Jenerálová
Added: 20.12.2011

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