Slav Epic (20 works), Alphonse Mucha

We visited this exhibition in Mar 2014 at the Veletržní palác of Prague.  I spent three hours just looking at 20 paintings.  They were huge in scale and realistic scenes.  I felt I was walkabout inside the paintings most of the time.  After a coffee break we spent another couple of hours looking at their permanent collection.  The collection is huge.  I particular like those old Czech masters not common known in English publications.

The Slav Epic is a series of twenty monumental canvases (the largest measuring over 6 x 8 metre, doubling the size of Guernica) depicting the history of the Slav people and civilisation.  All painted with egg tempera on canvas.  The style is scholarly and romantic.  Below is a picture taken at the exhibition hall, showing a guard in front of a picture on the right hand side, that gives a feel of the scale of the paintings.

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picture by IK Haythornthwaite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mucha dedicated 16 years from 1911 to 1926 solely on the production of this series of paintings as a gift to his country.   The creation of the Slav Epic marked a shift in Mucha’s artistic interest from the individual to the collective in an attempt to inspire his countrymen to achieve their full destiny.   Mucha wished to unite all the Slavs through their common history and their mutual reverence for peace and learning and eventually to inspire them to work for humanity using their experience and virtue.

The project was sponsored by an American Charles Richard Cane, who was intensely interested in the development of political affairs in Eastern Europe and Slavonic culture.

More details of the paintings can be found at the Mucha Foundation website http://www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/themes/theme/slav-epic

Details of the exhibition can be found at the museum website  http://www.czechtourism.com/e/muchas-slav-epic/  The exhibition extended to the end of 2015.  It is well worth a visit.

 

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