Mucha’s ‘Slav Epic’ finally on display in Prague

Alphonse Mucha had left ‘Slav Epic’ to the Czech capital on condition it build a tailor-made exhibition space for the cycle

Society|Arts & Leisure
Brian Kenety | 09.05.2012
The coronation of the Serbian Czar Stefan Dušan as East Roman Emperor, one of 20 masterpieces in the Slav Epic

The last five monumental masterpieces of world renowned Czech artist Alphonse Mucha’s “Slav Epic” arrived in Prague already in November — following a protracted battle with a Moravian town that hoped to the keep the series, which is a big tourist draw — and finally opens to the public here on Thursday.

Mucha had created the “Slav Epic” to tell the tale of the Czech and Slavic peoples. Pictorially, the celebrated cycle of 20 imposingly grand canvases depicts some of the main chapters of Russian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croat, Polish and Czech history.

The installation, now at the Czech National Gallery’s Veletržní palác branch in Holešovice (with the official opening tomorrow), had been meant to go on display months ago, but the grand opening was delayed due to the need to make technical modifications to the exhibition space, the Czech state news agency ČTK reported Wednesday.

It’s hardly the first delay: It was Prague’s failure after the Second World War to build a tailor-made exhibition space for the paintings (or convert a suitable building) that led “Slav Epic” to be on show for around 40 years at a crumbling castle around 200 kilometers away, in the south Moravian town of Moravský Krumlov, not far from Mucha’s birthplace in Ivančice.

Moravský Krumlov, which had depended on a good portion of its income from tourists visiting the works of the painter, fought a bitter tug-of-war with Prague over the works for the more than two years. Prague has based its claim on the paintings according to Mucha’s will, which left them to the Czech capital on the condition that it find a suitable place to put them on show. The Moravian town says Prague has yet to honor Mucha’s wishes.

Mucha’s ‘Slav Epic’
National Gallery at Veletržní palác
Daily (except Mondays) 10:00 a.m. to 18:00
Entrance fee: Kč 180

— Chris Johnstone contributed to this report 

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