The Slav Epic cycle of paintings by Czech Art-Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha will be exhibited at Moravsky Krumlov chateau in southern Moravia for at least five years until Prague will have a suitable venue for the monumental works of art, the Prague City Council decided on Monday.
The city of Moravský Krumlov, which was in charge of the cycle of 20 outsize paintings from the 1950s to 2010, has said it can ready them for a public exhibition within a matter of months.
Prague has long claimed ownership and took possession of the paintings after a protracted decade-long dispute. Moravský Krumlov says that if the town had not hidden and protected the paintings after World War II, they would have been destroyed.
“The Slavic Epic is one of the cultural symbols of this country. Quarreling and disputing over them is a shame and nonsense. That is why we have started to work with all sides and I hope we will come to a rational solution soon,” City Councilor Hana Třeštíková (Praha Sobě) said.
The entire epic was last shown in Prague from 2012 to the end of 2016 at the National Gallery’s modern art venue at Veletržní palác.
The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej) is a series of twenty monumental canvases (the largest measuring over 6 by 8 meters) depicting the history of the Slav people and civilization. Mucha conceived it as a monument for all the Slavonic peoples and he devoted the latter half of his artistic career to the realization of this work.
The first canvas in the series, The Slavs in Their Original Homeland, was finished in 1912 and the entire series was completed in 1926 with the final canvas, The Apotheosis of the Slavs, which celebrates the triumphant victory of all the Slavs whose homelands in 1918 finally became their very own.
In 1928, Mucha and Crane officially presented the complete series of the Slav Epic to the City of Prague as a gift to the nation, coinciding with the 10th Anniversary of its independence.