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Between 1904 and 1909, Mucha visited the United States five times in hopes of finding a benefactor who would support his ambitious project and eventually, on Christmas Day 1909, he secured sponsorship from Charles Richard Crane (1858-1939), a wealthy Chicago-based businessman and philanthropist. Crane was intensely interested in the development of political affairs in Eastern Europe and Slavonic culture and he was to provide financial and emotional sustenance to Mucha for almost twenty years. Mucha returned to his homeland in 1910 to take up his mission. THESE ARE POSTCARDS 5 TO 8 OF THE SERIES.
5.THE BOHEMIAN KING PREMYSL OTAKAR II. THE UNION OF SOVEREIGN SLAVS. (1924)
King P?emysl Otakar II ruled Bohemia from 1253 to 1278. He was also known as the ‘Iron King’ for his military prowess and the ‘Golden King’ for his fortunes amassed in the silver mines of Kutná Hora. He was responsible for establishing close links between Slavic monarchs in the 13th century in a drive to secure peace for future generations of Bohemians. On the occasion of the marriage of his niece Kunhuta of Brandenburg to the son of Hungary’s King Béla IV, P?emysl invited Slavonic rulers in an attempt to forge lasting alliances with all those in attendance.
Mucha depicts King P?emysl Otakar II greeting his guests as they arrive at the wedding. Stood at the center of an opulent tent with a built in chapel, the king holds hands with two guests in a gesture of friendship.
6. THE CORONATION OF THE SERBIAN TSAR STEPHAN DUSAN AS ROMAN EMPERIOR. SLAVIC CODE OF LAW.
Št?pán Dušan was responsible for expanding the Slavic territory in the 1300s and for establishing a code of law that was valid throughout his empire. In 1346, following successive military victories against the Byzantine Empire, he crowned himself Tsar of the Serbs and Greeks in Skoplje.
In this episode, Mucha depicts the procession following the Tsar’s coronation. Dušan stands in the middle of the procession with two men on either side holding regal robes. The procession is led by young girls in Serbian folk costume who convey Mucha’s faith that the younger generation will carry forward Pan-Slavic ideals.
7. JAN MILIC VON KROMERIZ . A BROTHEL TURNED INTO A COVENT.
Milí? of Krom??íž was a learned young theologian who held positions of responsibility in the church and the court of Charles IV. Horrified by the immorality and indulgences of the clergy, Milí? resigned from his duties to dedicate his life to the city’s poor and preach against the transgressions of the church.
In 1372, his moral teachings resulted in a number of prostitutes repenting and devoting their lives to help the sick and poor. Charles IV and several burghers donated property to the cause and Milí? established a refuge, a chapel and convent dedicated to Mary Magdalene.
Mucha depicts the construction of the refuge for penitent prostitutes. Milí?, an unassuming figure in a blue shroud with a long grey beard, stands preaching from the top of the scaffolding. The repentant women replace their jewelry with white habits, signifying their new found purity. In the foreground, a woman in red is gagged to prevent her from gossiping.
8. MASTER JAN HUSS PREACHING AT THE BETLEHEM CHAPEL. TRUTH PREVALS. (1916)
Jan Hus, born in 1374, was one of the most influential clergymen of the Czech Reformation. He rejected the Catholic Church’s excesses and argued that the Bible was the only true source of God’s word. In 1414 he was summoned to defend his teaching before the Council of Constance. Despite holding a safe pass issued by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, he was declared a heretic and burned at the stake the following year. His death prompted a rebellion among Czech nationalists which culminated in the Hussite Wars.
Mucha depicts Hus preaching to a captivated audience in Prague’s Bethlehem Chapel in 1412. Jan Žižka, the future military leader of the Hussites, stands near the wall on the left while Queen Sophia, wife of King Váklav IV, sits listening intently under a red baldachin with her ladies-in-waiting on either side.
Information on each card taken from www.mucha.org. Card 7 occupies the center area of the three sided folder for the set.