Alphonse Mucha's Slav epic and the projection of Czech identity
Tkacs, Joan Catherine
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In 1910, Alphonse Mucha began work on a series of twenty paintings that he titled the Slav Epic. Mucha intended to donate these paintings, which chronicled the major events of Slav history, to the City of Prague with the hope that they would fuel his countrymen’s desire for Czech independence. Mucha’s Epic can also be seen as an attempt to promote a positive image of the Slavs to the wider world. This paper examines the extent to which the themes of Mucha’s Slav Epic resonated with the cultural and political interests of an international audience. Beginning with a discussion of Mucha’s role in Paris as a spokesperson for his people, the paper then considers the importance of the “Slav” in Mucha’s artwork, and concludes with a series of pictorial analyses that demonstrate that Alphonse Mucha created his Epic with both local and international audiences in mind.