Alphonse Mucha's masterpiece, The Slav Epic, is currently in Tokyo on the first leg of a proposed exhibition tour that has been organised in the face of opposition from independent conservators, museum professionals, and art lovers, both in the Czech Republic and internationally.
The twenty enormous canvases, the largest measuring over 6 by 8 metres, must be rolled up in order to be transported, and the rolling up of the works will crack and damage the fragile oil and tempera paint.
Mucha designed the Slav Epic cycle as a monument for the Slavs, depicting key events in the history of Slavic civilisation. His original vision was that it should be permanently installed in a new building in Prague.
In 1928, Mucha and his sponsor Charles Crane presented the Slav Epic canvases to the City of Prague to mark the 10th anniversary of Czechoslovakia, on condition that the City of Prague would honour this monument with a suitable building.
The Mucha Foundation and Mucha family have made many attempts over the years to work with the City of Prague to realise Mucha’s vision for The Slav Epic, and remain committed to helping the City of Prague achieve Mucha's vision with any and all means available.
Today, however, almost 100 years after the gift, Mucha’s Slav Epic is still homeless. Now, the proposed tour of Asia threatens the work's survival.
Reputable news sources, including The Art Newspaper and The New York Times (please see links to the right), have covered the proposed tour and the concerns surrounding it.
Transporting the Slav Epic risks irreparable damage to the canvases and runs directly contrary to the intent of Mucha's gift. For these reasons, the Mucha family is firmly opposed both to the current exhibition in Japan and to any further touring of this fragile masterpiece.