Follow Us In the Footsteps of Alfons Mucha!

Follow Us In the Footsteps of Alfons Mucha!

The Slav Epic, posters with thoughtful Art Nouveau motifs, decorations of the Municipal House or a painted window of the Cathedral of St. Vitus in Prague, several museums or a studio at Zbiroh Castle?

We offer you a list of places where you will meet the works of the renowned Art Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha. Alfons Mucha, a native from the South Moravian town of Ivančice, was said to surprise those around him with his talent from a young age, but he never thought he would be a painter. From 1879, when he left for Vienna as a painter of theatre props in the Ring Theatre, his star rose steadily.

Memories of Paris

If it wasn’t for 1894, Alfons Mucha would probably today be remembered as one of the many artists of Czech origin who lived in Paris at the turn of the century. At that time, Mucha created a poster for the Renaissance Theatre’s Gismonda performance with actress Sarah Bernhardt. While the printer was afraid of Mucha’s unconventional style, the actress was extremely fond of it and closed a six-year exclusive contract with the artist. The poster was so successful with the Parisians that some collectors bribed the bill sticker to give them the poster, or they used razors to cut them out from the signboards at night. Alfons Mucha’s famous poster creations as well as his art from later years can be seen in Prague at the small Mucha Museum in Kaunický Palace near Wenceslaus Square, or at the Prague Gallery of Art in Old Town Square. There are over three hundred exhibits here, including postage stamps, banknotes and postcards, which Mucha designed after the declaration of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918. In addition, Mucha’s work will also be present in an exhibit in his native Ivančice near Brno.

The Slav Epic

During his stay in America, when Mucha worked at academies in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, the idea of the Slav Epic was born. He only realised it after 1910 after his return to Bohemia. Between the years 1912 and 1928, the artist’s home was the eastern wing of Zbiroh Castle near Plzeň and the large castle hall served as the studio for the giant canvases. During the visit, you can see these spaces as well as the small gallery of the castle pub, where you can view the exhibit of personal photographs that Alfons Mucha took during his stay. Some of the pictures became models for individual paintings.
The artist first introduced the Slav Epic – a cycle of 20 monumental paintings inspired by Slavic mythology and the history of Bohemians, Moravians and Silesians – to the Prague public in the autumn of 1928 at the Exhibition Palace in Prague, at the occasion of celebrating ten years of independence of the Czechoslovak state. The collection of twenty canvases was installed here until the end of 2016. In 2017, it travelled to Tokyo, Japan, where the exhibit was visited by 650,000 people in three months. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the inception of Czechoslovakia, you have the opportunity to see nine canvases from the Slav Epic together with a collection of posters within the Alfons Mucha – Two Worlds exhibition at the Brno Exhibition Centre from 26 May until the end of 2018.

Where else can you see Mucha’s art?

After returning to Bohemia, Alfons Mucha was not only focused on the Slav Epic. He also contributed to the decoration of the Municipal House and further designed a stained-glass window for St. Vitus Cathedral, which was inspired by the beginnings of Christianity in Bohemia. The colourfully blinding painting on glass and one of the most sought-after artefacts of Prague Castle is available for viewing in the New Archbishop’s Chapel, where the remains of Prague’s archbishops of the 20th century are laid to rest. Alfons Mucha died in 1939 soon after the invasion of Germans into Czechoslovakia. His grave can be found in the famous Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague.