'The Slav Epic' cycle No.16: Jan Amos Komenský. A Glimmer of Hope (1670). (1918)

In 1619 the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II became King of Bohemia. He set about reinstating the Roman Catholic Church in the predominantly Protestant region, prompting a revolt which culminated in 1620 with the Battle of White Mountain near Prague. 30,000 Bohemians defending religious liberty were crushed by King Ferdinand's imperial army of 25,000 soldiers. 27 noblemen involved in the insurrection were executed and Protestants were given the order to either convert to Catholicism within 3 days, or to leave Bohemia.

One of the country’s most celebrated religious exiles was Jan Amos Komenský. Komenský was one of the Bohemian Brethren’s spiritual leaders. He believed that education was the key to true faith and his innovative approach to teaching earned him a reputation throughout Europe, particularly among fellow exiles. Komenský spent the last years of his life in the town of Naarden in Holland. Each day he would walk along the coast, and when he felt his death approaching, he asked to be taken there on a chair.

Mucha’s composition is dominated by greys and blues that capture the melancholic nature of Komenský’s solitary death on foreign shores. He is overlooked by mourning followers who attempt to comfort each other. The small flickering lantern offers a vague hope that one day the exiles will be able to return to their native Bohemia.