Two figures hide in the bushes as a cavalry or soldiers approaches in the background under a night sky

Slav Epic (20 works)

'The Slav Epic' cycle No.17: The Holy Mount Athos (1926)

Mount Athos was the centre of the Greek Orthodox Church and from the 10th to the 15th century it also held great significance for southern Slavs. Mucha held the Orthodox Church in great esteem, believing it to have had a unifying influence on the Slav people. When he visited the monastery in 1924 he was moved by its timeless spirituality.

Filled with icons and symbols, Mucha’s composition depicts a procession of Russian pilgrims proceeding in a semi-circle towards four high priests at the rear of the sanctuary. Each of the priests holds a relic out for the pilgrims to embrace. A beam of sunshine filters through the apse from the left, lighting up the figures of angels, four of which hold models of Slavic monasteries in the Mount Athos area. The figure of the Virgin painted on the ceiling has an earthly quality that sets her apart from the angels. In the foreground, a young boy props up a blind old man.