(K. Brent Tomer),
ALPHONSE MUCHA is best known for his pioneering art-nouveau work in fin-de-siècle Paris, especially a series of posters depicting Sarah Bernhardt, a legendary actress. But the Czech-born artist considered a 20-canvas cycle called the Slav Epic to be his masterwork, and he donated the massive paintings to the city of Prague in 1928 with the proviso they build a facility to display them. The Mucha family is still waiting to see that wish fulfilled.
With the Slav Epic slated for an Asian sojourn next year, Mucha’s heirs, lead by a grandson, John Mucha, are suing to block the museum tour in what may be the final chapter of a century-long saga that has seen the paintings outlast the Nazis and the communists. The bitter conflict between the family and the city has lingered for years, with the family contending that Prague’s failure to construct a venue should nullify Mucha’s gift.
History has weighed heavily on the art (as it did the artist). After gaining renown in Paris and touring America, Mucha was already at work on the Slav Epic when he returned to Prague in 1910. It took him some two decades to complete the cycle of paintings, which…Continue reading