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THE SLAV EPIC

THE MAGNUM OPUS OF ALPHONSE MUCHA

[Introduction] [Gallery] 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
 
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The Celebration of Svantovit: When Gods Are at War, Salvation is in the Arts - 1912

 

This image depicts the celebration of the harvest festival of honouring the pagan god Svantovit, taking place on the Baltic island of Rujana's capital city of Arkona. The treasure-filled temple which lay at the heart of the celebration was a place of pilgrimage for Slavs during the eighth to tenth centuries. Arkona was later conquered by Danish warriors and, by Mucha's time, had acquired mythic status as a symbol of former Slavic glory.

 

The temple can be seen in the left background. Brightest amongst the pilgrims in the foreground is a mother and child, with sun setting on the scene behind her. In the top left is the Viking god Thor with a pack of dogs, foretelling the future destruction of Arkona. At the very top, centre, a Slavic warrior is dying in the in front the figure of Svantovit who sprouts the leaves of the linden tree. The vertical shaft of blue/white is the warrior's sword which is being taken by the god to protect the future of the Slavs.

 

The importance of artistic endeavour as a response to war is emphasised by the three musicians in the centre right of the composition and the foreground figure of a wood carver being consoled and inspired by his muse.