Alfons Mucha's granddaughter, Jarmila Mucha Plocková, at the press conference for the opening of the Future of Slavic Epics exhibition. May 23, 2023, Gallery of Critics, Prague.
Prague – Jarmila Mucha Plocková, the granddaughter of the painter Alfons Mucha, is ready to defend herself in court against the placement of the Slavic Epic series of paintings in the planned Savarin shopping complex in the center of Prague. She said this today at the opening of an exhibition on possible locations of famous canvases in the Critics' Gallery in Prague's Adria Palace. The capital is negotiating with another painter's heir, John Mucha, about the location of the epic in Savarin, and according to Mucha Plocková, both sides have been ignoring it during negotiations for years. According to Prague councilor Jiří Pospíšil (TOP 09), it is essential to preserve the paintings in the city's property.
Alfons Mucha, who died in 1939, bequeathed his cycle to Prague with the condition that it would provide a decent exhibition space for it. This has not happened yet, permanent spaces for the epic have been sought in the metropolis for decades. Now the canvases are on loan to the castle in Moravské Krumlov until 2026.
John Mucha is suing the Prague municipality for the ownership of twenty large-format paintings due to non-fulfillment of the painter's condition. In the past he lost the dispute, the Supreme Court returned the matter to the beginning and in 2020 John Mucha won the first instance court. The two sides reached a preliminary agreement last year on an out-of-court settlement, which consisted of placing the paintings in Crestyl's upcoming Savarin commercial project. However, the agreement has not yet been concluded and the deadline set by the court recently expired, which the court refused to extend. The appeals court is expected to take place in June, unless an agreement is reached in the meantime.
Mucha Plocková and the Society for the Slavic Epic in Prague, of which she is a member, do not agree with the placement of the paintings in Savarin. The painter's granddaughter said today that she does not agree with the proposed agreement and also rejects the fact that, as Mucha's heir, no one invites her to negotiations about the future of the paintings and she only learns the information from the media. “If there is an agreement to which I was not invited and my opinion was not heard, then of course I will defend myself in court,” she said.
“I am sorry for Mrs. Plock's words,” Prague councilor Pospíšil commented on the painter's granddaughter's statement. “It is not in the public interest to continue with litigation that may end up against the capital city,” he said. He added that it is essential for him to preserve the paintings in the city's property and to end the lawsuit. According to him, the original conditions negotiated by the previous city management and the then councilor Hana Třeštíková (Praha Sobě) did not include the end of the dispute on the part of John Mucha at the moment of signing the final agreement, while Pospíšil insists on it. He added that negotiations are now taking place practically every day and he is slightly optimistic about their outcome.
Alternatives for the location of the epic are brought closer by the exhibition, which is open to the public on the first floor of the Adria Palace from today until June 4. The panels represent five possible locations including Savarin and Moravský Krumlov. Apart from them, he suggests the reconstructed Industrial Palace, the former ice factories in Braník and the castle in Zbraslav as the most suitable places. According to Ondřej Pecha, the chairman of the Association for the Slavic Epic, the proposed variants correspond to the parameters for suitable exhibition spaces created by the city's Institute of Planning and Development. “The variant that is being promoted does not correspond to anything at all,” he said of the location in Savarin.
Last year, the Ministry of Culture canceled the positive monument assessment for the original version of the reconstruction project in Savarin, which is supposed to turn the originally baroque complex into a shopping center connecting Wenceslas Square with Na Příkopě, Jindřišská and Panská streets. Crestyl recently withdrew the original application for a zoning decision and, according to an earlier statement, intends to submit a new one.