Prague, Sept 26 (CTK) – The Slav Epic cycle of paintings by Czech Art Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) will fly to Tokyo in February where it will be displayed as of March 7, and then it will move to China as of mid-2017, Prague City Gallery director Magdalena Jurikova told reporters yesterday.
The press conference was held on the National Gallery (NG) premises in the Veletrzni (Trade Fair) Palace in Prague where the cycle of 20 giant paintings depicting the ancient history of the Slavs is temporarily displayed by the end of this year.
Prague City Gallery is preparing the final version of the contract on loaning the Slav Epic to China where it should stay in three museums until mid-2018, Jurikova said.
“No detailed memorandum has been drafted yet between us and China. We have so far signed only a brief form of agreement that declares the interest in organising a touring exhibition. The final memorandum will be ready within a few months,” Jurikova added.
Prague must also wait for an export permit issued by the Culture Ministry in the case of cultural heritage.
“The Culture Ministry has received a request for permitting export of the Slav Epic and it has asked the Prague City Gallery a number of accompanying questions since the request has not sufficiently proved the additional protection of the paintings during the whole time of their export,” Culture Ministry spokeswoman Simona Cigankova told CTK.
The ministry has already received some comments as well as opinions of the export opponents.
“However, the assessment of all material we have received will last quite a long time that is hard to be estimated now. The priority of our heritage protection section is naturally to secure adequate conditions,” the ministry said.
As of March 2017, Mucha’s paintings on canvas will be exhibited in Tokyo. Exhibition curator Vlasta Cihakova Noshiro said the Japanese Museum expected the costs to be higher than the revenues from the exhibition.
Japanese journalists will arrive in Prague to look at the Slav Epic in October and November.
In 2017, the Year of Czech Culture will be held in Japan on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic relations between both countries.
After three months, the Slav Epic should be sent to China, but the exact dates are not set since the final contract has not been signed yet, Jurikova said.
“The contract will be signed between the Prague City Gallery and the Chinese partner,” Prague councillor for culture Jan Wolf told CTK.
According to the preliminary agreement, the Slav Epic should be displayed in the museum in Nanjing from July to October 2017 and then in Guangdong until March 2018 and finally in Hunan in China.
The paintings made in 1912-1926 are in an excellent state, curator Tomas Berger said. The current conditions in the NG and the conditions the cycle will face in the Asian museums are the best it has ever experienced, he added.
The insurance value of the paintings is at least 10.8 million euros.
The paintings will be transported wound around big cylinders with a 0.5-metre dimeter each. Moreover, they all must not fly aboard one plane. One painting weighs some 20 kilos.
The cycle has been put on display in the Czech Republic and abroad for more than 20 times since 1919. However, in 1936, the City Council did not recommend to loan it to exhibitions any more not to damage the paintings.
At present, some experts have asked the Culture Ministry not to allow the paintings, which enjoy the status of cultural heritage, to be sent abroad.
The artifacts were moved from a chateau in Moravsky Krumlov, south Moravia, where it were on display for decades, in 2012. The transport stirred up protests of the Moravsky Krumlov Town Hall, the South Moravia Regional Office as well as the painter’s grandson John Mucha and thousands of other people.John Mucha does not agree with the planned touring exhibition of the paintings in Asian countries and he has filed a legal complaint against Prague over it.
Prague considers the cycle its property since Mucha gave it to the capital 1913 on condition it builds a new pavilion for it. However, the Mucha family claims that the donation is not legally effective since Prague has not met this condition. The city wants to choose the place where the pavilion could be built by the end of the year.
($1=24.096 crowns)