Slav Epic

Slav Epic

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.

Slované v pravlasti Alfons Mucha Slovanská epopej

The Slavs in their Original Homeland

1912, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 610 × 810 cm

The first three paintings of the Slav Epic cycle are regarded as the most accomplished of the series probably due to Mucha’s thorough preparation,…

Slavnost Svantovítova na Rujáně Alfons Mucha Slovanská epopej

The Celebration of Svantovit in Rujana

1912, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 610 x 810 cm

The second canvas was inspired by the fate of Baltic Slavs for whom the island of Rujana (now Rügen) represented the centre of Slavic…

Zavedení slovanské liturgie

The Introduction of Slavonic Liturgy

1912, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 610 × 810 cm

The Introduction of Slavonic Liturgy, the third canvas of the first triad of the Slav Epic, also has a historical and symbolic plan, heading…

Car Simeon I. Bulharský

Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria

1923, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 480 cm

Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria (also Symeon), the son of Tsar Boris, baptized probably by Methodius himself, is regarded as the founder of Slavic…

Král český Přemysl Otakar II.

King Přemysl Otakar II of Bohemia

1924, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 480 cm

King Přemysl Otakar II, also called the “Iron and Golden King” for his wealth and political power, ruled in Bohemia in the second half…

Korunovace srbského cara Štěpána Dušana východořímským císařem

The Coronation of Serbian Tsar Stefan Dušan as East Roman Emperor

1923, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 480 cm

Stefan Dušan was an outstanding Serbian army leader who took advantage of the decline of the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century, conquered its…

Jan Milíč z Kroměříže

Milíč of Kroměříž

1916, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 620 × 405 cm

The Slav Epic cycle is evenly divided into a Bohemian and a Slavic part. The core of the Bohemian part is formed by the…

Kázání Mistra Jana Husa v kapli Betlémské

Master Jan Hus Preaching at the Bethlehem Chapel

1916, egg tempera, oil, canvas 610 × 810 cm

Master Jan Hus Preaching at the Bethlehem Chapel forms the central part of the Hussite Triptych and bears the motto of the Czech Reformation:…

Schůzka na Křížkách

The Meeting at Křížky

1916, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 620 × 405 cm

The painting represents the right vertical wing of the Hussite Triptych and the situation in the country after the death of Master Jan Hus…

Po bitvě u Grunwaldu

After the Battle of Grunwald

1924, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 610 cm

The battle of Grunwald is considered one of the greatest battles in European Mediaeval history.

It was fought in 1410 between the Teutonic Knights…

Po bitvě na Vítkově

After the Battle of Vítkov Hill

1923, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 480 cm

The Slav Epic paintings are based on Mucha’s Masonry ideals, his pacifism and Christian resolution not to depict violence, blood or the course of…

Petr Chelčický u Vodňan

Petr of Chelčice at Vodňany

1918, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 610 cm

Dedicated to Petr Chelčický, the spiritual predecessor of the Unity of the Brethren, this painting is the counterpart of the portrait of its last…

Husitský král Jiří z Poděbrad a Kunštátu

The Hussite King Jiří of Poděbrady and Kunštát

1923, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 480 cm

Jiří of Poděbrady was a popular persona in the Czech 19th century historical painting because he became king through a democratic election by the…

Hájení Sigetu Mikulášem Zrinským

The Defense of Sziget against the Turks by Nikola Subic Zrinsky

1914, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 610 × 810 cm

This painting is considered to be the most dramatic of the Slav Epic. It describes the courageous defence of the Hungarian fortress of Sziget…

Bratrská škola v Ivančicích

The Brethren School in Ivančice

1914, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 610 × 810 cm

The Brethren School in Ivančice is the first canvas of a triptych dedicated to the educational and enlightenment activities of the Unity of the…

Poslední dny Jana Amose Komenského v Naardenu

The Last Days of Jan Amos Komenský in Naarden

1918, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 620 cm

Dedicated to the “teacher of nations”, Jan Amos Komenský (Comenius), this painting is considered to be one of the most serious works of the…

Svatá hora Mont Athos

The Holy Mount Athos

1926, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 405 × 480 cm

Mucha started this painting in 1924, since the research of the chosen location was needed. The Byzantine temple at Mount Athos is the first,…

Přísaha Omladiny pod slovanskou lípou

The Oath of Omladina under the Slavic Linden Tree

1926 (unfinished), egg tempera, oil, canvas, 390 × 590 cm

In 1894, the patriotic youth movement Omladina gained ground on the Czech political scene. Its social claims ranged from the introduction of universal…

Zrušení nevolnictví na Rusi

The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia

1914, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 610 × 810 cm

This is the only painting created on request of the patron, American entrepreneur Charles R. Crane, who was a great lover of Slavic and especially…

Apoteóza z dějin Slovanstva Alfons Mucha Slovanská epopej

The Apotheosis of the Slavs

1926, egg tempera, oil, canvas, 480 × 405 cm

The final work of the cycle had been conceived as a vision of Slavic triumph which should serve as an example of the fight…