Alphonse Mucha, Art Nouveau and The Slav Epic
Alfonse Mucha is perhaps one of the most renowned artists reigning from the Art Nouveau movement during the early 19th and 20th centuries. While the extents of Mucha’s works include everything from posters and mail stamps to magazine artwork and advertisements, Mucha most grand achievement is that of the Slav Epic. During his time spend in New York in the early 1900’s, Mucha set out to earn money in order to fund projects dedicated to Czech and Slavic nationalism. After a generous donation from a millionaire named Charles R. Crane, Mucha moved himself and his family back to Prague where he was able to focus on his goal of creating a tribute to Slavic Nationalism. During 1910 to 1928 Alphonse Mucha committed himself to a project that would take most of his life to complete; his series of monumental paintings on the history of Slav People, a work known later as The Slav Epic. This cycle consists of twenty massive canvass paintings, some as much as six meters tall. Each piece is dedicated to a different aspect of Czech and Slavic history, with ten dedicated specifically to Czech history the remaining 10 to Slavic history. Even beyond that, Mucha took a great deal of care in organizing the paintings thematically along allegorical, religious, military and cultural lines. His commitment to creating images and ideas of Czech and Slavic history in the most accurate way possible took him on multiple trips through Russia and the Balkans to conduct research. While the paintings play off one another to create a allegorical tribute to Czech and Slavic Nationalism, each painting also stands as an individual masterpiece and story of it’s own.
The series begins with a portrayal of what Mucha calls The Slavs in Their Original Home Land, a painting that depicts the hostile conditions of early Slavic life and acts as a foreshadowing of...