Alfons Mucha dedicated his monumental set of 20 large-format canvases of the Slav Epic to the history of the Slavs; he worked on it between 1910–1928.
Ten of the paintings address Czech history, which Mucha conceived as the fundamental ideological axis of the entire cycle. The other ten paintings are dedicated to the history of other Slavs, specifically to the idea of Slavic mutuality during their struggle for independence and national self-determination. The broad thematic range extends from symbolic visions of Slavic antiquity, associated with the worship of pagan cults and deities, through historically documented events, to the “apotheosis” of the Slavs and their spiritual legacy to all mankind.
The Epic, whose first canvases originated more than a hundred years ago, is essentially a prime example of the synthesis of the high historical academicism of the last third of the 19th century and turn-of-thecentury symbolism. The historical, but mainly the artistic quality of the series has been continuously questioned and discussed; the virtuoso painting and timeless significance have been referred to on the one hand, while on the other its retrograde artistic academicism and the irrelevance of the subject matter already during the execution of the work have been cited.