Prague and Alfons Mucha’s grandson end dispute over Slav Epic
After years of legal disputes, the City of Prague and the descendants of Art Nouveau painter Alfons Mucha have finally reached agreement over ownership rights to Mucha’s famous Slav Epic. The two sides have agreed to cooperate in creating a centre where the cycle of paintings will be displayed.
The Slav Epic is a monumental work of Czech painter Alfons Mucha in which he traces the history of the ancient Slavs. Mucha, who regarded the cycle of 20 huge canvasses as his lifetime achievement, dedicated the series of paintings to the City of Prague in 1928 on condition that a suitable venue was provided to showcase them.
To this day, however, Prague City Hall has not been able to find a suitable location and the fate of the Slav Epic became the focal point of a drawn-out legal battle between the Czech capital and the descendants of the painter.
An agreement signed on Monday by Prague city councillors and the painter’s grandson John Mucha has finally put an end to the dispute. Mucha agreed to withdraw his lawsuit against the city for having failed to fulfil the condition under which it was bequeathed to Prague.
The two sides have now agreed to cooperate in creating a centre where, in addition to the Slav Epic, a large collection managed by the Mucha Foundation will be housed, Deputy Mayor for Prague Jiří Pospíšil told Czech Radio:
“The idea is not just to find a suitable place for the Slav Epic, but to create a large Mucha Centre that will accommodate dozens of other paintings by Alfons Mucha alongside the Epic, that belong to the Alfons Mucha Foundation. This will create an exceptional cultural venue in Prague, which will attract a large number of foreign visitors.”
The City Hall has not yet decided on the premises, but the previous administration of the municipality had tentatively agreed with John Mucha and the Crestyl Group, one of the city’s leading developers, to place the epic in the underground spaces of the Baroque Savarin Palace in the centre of Prague, which is being revamped into a shopping centre. While this site is mentioned in the agreement approved on Monday, it also leaves room for a possible location elsewhere.
Among those who are against placing the Slav Epic in the Savarin Palace is the Society for the Slav Epic in Prague, co-founded by Mucha’s granddaughter Jarmila Mucha Plocková.
According to the association, the underground premises in the shopping centre are not suitable for the artworks. Instead, it suggests there are more appropriate spaces, such as the newly-reconstructed Industrial Palace.
Mucha Plocková has repeatedly stated she is ready to challenge the possible placement of the canvases in the Savarin Palace in court. Last week, the Deputy Mayor for Prague Jiří Pospíšil said he had initiated a meeting with Plocková to discuss the situation.
For the time being, the Slav Epic is on display at the château in Moravský Krumlov in south Moravia, where they will remain until 2026.