Alphonse (Alfons) Mucha (1860-1939) was a prolific Moravian painter of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and a key figure in the Art Nouveau movement. His style of painting influenced an entire generation of painters, graphic artists, draughtsmen and designers and in the minds of many, his work epitomizes the Art Nouveau. He himself came to resent his fame as an artist of the utilitarian, believing that true art should be elevated and epic.
The Slav Epic
Mucha spent many years working on what he considered his life’s fine art masterpiece, The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej), a series of twenty huge paintings depicting the history of the Czech and the Slavic people in general, bestowed to the city of Prague during 1928. He had wanted to complete a series such as this, a celebration of Slavic history, since he was young. Since 1963 the series has been on display in the chateau in Moravský Krumlov the South Moravian Region in the Czech Republic.
The rising tide of fascism during the late 1930s resulted in Mucha’s works, as well as his Slavic nationalism, being denounced in the press as ‘reactionary’. When German troops moved into Czechoslovakia during the spring of 1939, Mucha was among the first persons to be arrested by the Gestapo. During his interrogation, the aging artist became ill with pneumonia. Though released eventually, he may have been weakened by this event. He died in Prague on 14 July 1939, of a lung infection, and was interred there in the Vyšehrad cemetery
Works by Mucha