'The Slav Epic' cycle No.15: The Brethren School in Ivančice, the Printing of the Czech Bible. God Gave Us the Gift of Language (1578). (1914)

The Unity of the Brethren formed in Bohemia in 1457. Informed by the teachings of Jan Hus and Petr Chelčicky, the Brethren believed that education was the key to true faith. In the Bohemian town of Ivančice – Mucha’s birthplace – Brethren scholars produced a Czech translation of the New Testament. Later known as the Bible of Kralice when printing transferred to the nearby town of Kralice, this work became an important symbol of Czech national identity and was instrumental in keeping the Czech language alive.

Mucha depicted his home town of Ivančice on a sunny autumn day. The industrious Brethren gather around the printing press to inspect the first printed pages. In the foreground a young student reads to an old man. He looks out to the viewer and his stern expression seems to foretell the impending persecution that will force the Brethren to flee the country.