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Description of the masterpiece of Alphonse Mucha’s “The Slav Epic”

There has been years of legal debate between the city of Prague and the descendants of the artist Alphonse Mucha over his Slavic epic, a sequence of 20 paintings telling the story of the Slavs. By the way, it seems that an agreement has finally been reached to permanently store the work in Prague.

Mucha presented his masterpiece to Prague in 1928. However, it was necessary to build an exhibition space to accommodate the paintings. Some were over 8 meters wide. The building never happened. However, the developers of the retail center, which is scheduled to open in central Prague in 2026, have vowed to build a space to display the epic.

Mucha’s grandson, John Mucha, told the Art Newspaper that the development of the exhibition space would “if everything went according to plan” withdraw the proceedings and allow the paintings to be exhibited in a permanent home. I told him to do it.

This is a summary of what each canvas represents.

Original hometown Slavs

Mucha set the beginning of his people’s story around the 5th century, when the Slavic tribes of Central and Eastern Europe did not have a unified political structure and were vulnerable to attacks from the Germanic militia. The couple in the foreground is hiding in the woods while the assailants are burning the village. Floating above the scene is a pagan priest surrounded by two young men who represent both the peace brought about by fighting for war and freedom.

Celebration of Svetovid

Beginning around the 8th century in the northwestern land of the Slavs, the Slavs built the temple of the pagan god Svetovid on what is now Rügen, Germany. Danish troops destroyed the temple and the land was soon repopulated with Germans.

This painting shows a white-dressed Slavic pilgrim traveling to Svetovid for a celebration. As they navigate the sacred island, most are unaware of their enemies represented by the wolf in the upper left.

Introduction to the Slavic liturgy

By the mid-9th century, many Slavs had adopted Christianity. The new faith was deeply strengthened when the Slavic monks Cyril and Methodius translated the Christian text into what is now known as the Old Church Slavonic. The scripts they created for the task are the basis of the Cyrillic script used in Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, and many other countries today.

This painting depicts Methodius in the upper left, wearing a white hood, triumphantly returning from Rome and continuing to translate the Bible into Slavic-friendly text at the blessing of the Pope. The numbers in the upper right represent the rulers who helped spread Christianity in Slavonic.

The subtitle of the painting, “Praise the Lord in your native language,” captures the cultural importance of the moment.

Bulgarian Emperor Simeon

When Methodius followers were expelled from Moravia, Emperor Simeon (center of the picture) invited them to the southern Kingdom of Bulgaria and continued to translate Christian texts.

In this painting, members of Simeon’s court see from the side the Moravian translators cluttering the royal palace. Simeon is depicted in the midst of a heated debate.

Bohemian King Premsil Otakar II

Known for his immense wealth and golden king, Ottokar II worked in the 13th century to build close ties with other Slavic rulers. Mucha portrays a Bohemian ruler reaching out to two guests with friendship at the wedding of Otakar’s niece and the son of the King of Hungary.

Coronation of Serbian Emperor Stephen Urosan

When the Serbian emperor Stephen Dusan (probably called “probably the most powerful ruler in Europe”) is crowned in Skopje in 1346, girls in traditional costumes lead the procession. Dusan is in the center of the image, dressed in white and gold.

Dusan was praised for the significant expansion of the Slavic-owned territory of southern Europe and for a series of laws that acted as a kind of medieval constitution.

Kroměříž Miric

Jan Millichi was one of the first Christian men to openly object to what he felt was corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. In 1363 he left his priesthood title and became a simple preacher.

In this painting, Milrick is depicted in a blue cloak with a beard on the scaffolding during the construction of a shelter for “repentant prostitutes”. The women at the bottom of the frame seem to have been impressed by Mirick’s sermon, which can be seen at various stages of replacing flashy streetwear with nun’s dull clothes.

Master Jan Hus preaching in the Bethlehem Chapel: Truth Prevails

Jan Hus was another candid priest who criticized the Roman Catholic Church for overkill. His Czech sermon at the plain Bethlehem Chapel in the Old Town of Prague electrified the congregation. In 1415, after repeated clashes with church leaders, he was charged with heresy and burned at the stake.

Meeting at Kuzishuki

The cruelty of Jan Hus’ death caused widespread anger in the Czech lands, and an underground movement against the Pope’s authority developed rapidly. This work depicts a secret gathering outside Prague in 1419. A preacher named Coranda, wearing a brown cloak on the right side of the center of the painting, calls on the crowd to cross their arms as dark clouds gather in the background.

After the Battle of Grunwald

The Teutonic Order was a terrifying Christian army that regularly raided the pagan Slavic territory of northeastern Europe throughout the 1300s. In 1410, a coalition of Polish and Lithuanian fighters advanced the Knights near the base in eastern Germany today. This destroyed the Germanic fighters in the infamous Battle of Tannenberg.

This painting depicts the victorious but shell-shocked King Vwadislaw of Poland paying for the battle.

After the Battle of the Wietkov Hills

Mucha returns to the Jan Hus followers, known as the Hussites, in this painting in the aftermath of the battle at the edge of Prague. The battle took place in the summer of 1420 after the fierce anti-Hussite Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund tried to crack down on the religious rebels in Prague. A small Hussite band resisted Sigismund’s army from the location of a fortress on the Vitokov hill, before an army led by the legendary one-eyed warrior Jan Zizka surprised the invaders from behind.

This painting captures Jizka (right) in the axis of sunlight standing on an enemy’s abandoned weapon during improvised religious service.

Petr Herchiki

The misery of the Hussite Wars is captured in this scene, which shows the aftermath of the myriad slaughter of villagers by Hussite militants. In the center right of the scene, pacifist Petr Chelčick begs people not to seek revenge. Czech spiritual leaders believed that it was impossible to physically destroy evil.

Jiri, Hussite King of Podebrady

The Hussite military patience allowed Bohemia to be crowned Podebradi’s native Czechjiri in 1458. Hussite rulers gained popularity for their relatively gentle treatment of Catholics and for controlling some of the more extreme Hussite factions. However, Roman Catholic leadership refused to acknowledge his rule and demanded that Bohemia be returned to Pope’s rule.

This picture shows that the king (right) has rejected the request of one of the Pope’s diplomats. In the foreground, the boy marks the end of his collaboration with Roman Catholic leaders by snapping a book titled Rome.

Nikola IV Zrinsky defends Szigetvár against the Turks

A new chapter in religious conflict begins with this painting of the Turkish army’s siege of Szigetvár in 1566. The defenders of the town are headed by the Croatian aristocrat Nikola IV Zrinsky. The Ottoman Empire eventually conquered a highly fortified town now in southern Hungary and slaughtered its inhabitants. However, the massive losses suffered by the invaders during the siege delayed Islam’s advance into Europe. The French Cardinal, later called Szigetvár, “saved the battle” [Western] civilization. “

Bible print of Claris in Ivancice

The Unity of the Brethren was a religious sect founded on the principles taught by Jan Hus. In Ivancice, Mucha’s hometown, the scholars’ brothers printed a Czech translation of the New Testament. In Mucha’s lush scene, the brothers read through a new copy of the Bible made on a printing press (right). The Bible printed in Claris turns out to be important for preserving the Czech language throughout the turbulent events that followed.

The last days of Jan Amos Comenius in Naarden

In 1619, the new Roman emperor Ferdinand II used military force to re-force Roman Catholic rule over Bohemia. Thousands fled the area after being given the option of converting to Catholicism or asylum.

This painting captures the melancholy death of the beloved Czech educator and philosopher Jan Amos Comenius in 1670. He sits in a chair on the Dutch coast. Lanterns offer what Mucha called “flickering hope” in the dark scenes when Komensky followers dreamed of returning to their hometown.

Holy Mount Athos

Mount Athos is a sacred peninsula dotted with monasteries in northeastern Greece. It has long been important to the Slavs and was under Serbian control for decades in the 1300s. Mucha visited the peninsula on her own.

In this painting, he depicts a crowd of Russian pilgrims paying homage to one of the temples on the peninsula. Angels holding images of other Atos monasteries are floating above tired travelers.

Oath of the Slavic Bodhisattva under the Slavic Linden Tree

Omuradina (Youth) was the title given to a violent opposition protester in Prague who opposed Austrian rule over Czech land in the late 1800s. Dozens of protesters were sentenced to long-term imprisonment in a notorious trial. Mucha portrayed an ideal nationalist movement, pledged allegiance to the “goddess Slavia”, where young people and politicians watch over the perch of the linden tree.

Abolition of serfdom in Russia

Russian society changed dramatically in 1865 when Emperor Alexander II gave freedom to about 23 million serfs. Mucha traveled to Russia in 1913 to study this subject. His painting depicts a crowd of Russian farmers uncertainly roaming on the Red Square in Moscow after learning of their new position as free men and women.

Slavic hymns

In the final frame of his epic series, Mucha summarized the 19 previous painting themes and added one final detail from about the same time. At the bottom left of the frame, World War I soldiers are salute to a young man waving a branch to welcome his return from the trench.

Many Slavic nations gained independence as the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed at the end of the hostilities of 1918. The figure at the top of the frame shows that the world of Slavic has entered a new era of independence as a Christ-like person provides guidance from behind. ..

On January 22, Magdalena Jurikova, director of the City of Prague Museum, told RFE / RL that the canvas was stored in a “secret place” in Prague after a temporary exhibition from 2018 to 2020. .. Julikova said the painting would be moved to the town of Moravsky Krumlov. In the spring of 2021, another temporary exhibition will take place as Prague’s development materializes over the next few years.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE / RL, Inc. Reissued with permission from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC20036

Description of the masterpiece of Alphonse Mucha’s “The Slav Epic”

Source link Description of the masterpiece of Alphonse Mucha’s “The Slav Epic”

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