Authorities block transfer of famous Slav Epic


Alphonse Mucha’s masterpiece the Slav Epic will not be moved from its temporary home in Moravský Krumlov to Prague for the time being – not before legal questions over its ownership are cleared up- that was the decision by officials on Monday, heeding a call by the painter’s heirs to block anyone from handling the work. The ruling came only hours or so before the first transfer of canvases was to begin; Prague had been hoping to temporarily show them at Veletržní palác.

John Mucha, photo: CTKJohn Mucha, photo: CTK A little earlier I spoke to the painter’s grandson John Mucha on a line to Italy.

“The place where it was supposed to be put is not suitable and indeed were the Slav Epic to be put there, there would be acute danger of its possible destruction. That is not acceptable. Essentially the space – when the building was built – was meant to exhibit industrial machinery. It was not built as a space which would house fragile works of art. Of course, you can adapt any space but the cost of making that environment particularly safe would be colossal.

“Likewise what would not be acceptable is the fact that it is only a temporary solution. What to us is very important as a family is to find the Slav Epic, photo: CTKSlav Epic, photo: CTK final suitable place for the Slav Epic. It should be in Prague. But it is a question of talking in constructive terms to the City of Prague or – if we are forced to – or having to resort to the full force of the legal system of the Czech Republic. We will do whatever it takes.”

One of the factors on which the donation of Alphonse Mucha’s Slav Epic is hinged, based on the original contract, is based on the promise that it would have its own building but that hasn’t happened.

“It hasn’t happened and also what has been completely ignored is that Mucha spent decades organising exactly how the paintings were to be placed.”

Slav Epic, photo: CTKSlav Epic, photo: CTK Not long ago, in March, you told Radio Prague that there were two permanent locations in Prague that were being discussed and that negotiations had made progress: have those negotiations stalled?

“Well, yes, I mean it’s astonishing. It was about two years ago, in a positive move that the City of Prague began talking to us and we were engaged in a constructive, forward-looking discussion. But then in March you may recall there was a request from Japan to borrow the entire Slav Epic; the city turned it down – which we agree with – but then simultaneously, like lightening from a blue sky, this extraordinary decision came down ‘Let’s have it in Prague by September’. We were stunned: that was never discussed.”