As mentioned in the previous tale, After the Battle of Grunwald, Mucha liked to capture the battlefield in the period after the fighting had finished in order to capture an entirely different atmosphere. Here one would be reflective on events, with adrenalin now replaced with a connection to reality and a realisation about the cost of this conflict. Whilst Mucha attempted to paint his people's journey is as positive a light as possible, he certainly turned away from the traditional approach to war art, which was to provide an exceptionally abrupt contrast between the victors and those defeated. He wanted to appreciate success, but also allow us to understand the costs in achieving that. Within this painting, he appears to have chosen a time even closer to the end of the battle, with the evening sun starting to go down on the day's events.
After the Battle of Vitkov Hill refers to a fracturing of the relationship between the Czech people and some of their neighbouring regions. Infighting was brought about because of the Czech's rejection of the newly crowned Sigismund, King of Hungary, who they had not forgiven for the brutal death of Jean Hus, someone who featured earlier in the Slav Epic. The conflict between these nations led inevitably to war, in the spring of 1420. Another interesting aspect to remember about this work is that it was produced during WWI, and so it is quite likely that Mucha himself was attempting to remind us about the horrors of war, rather than focusing on the more positive aspect of victory on which most artists concentrate.
This artwork was completed in 1916 and measures 405cm x 620cm. All of the twenty items in this series were large, mural-like paintings completed in egg tempera. Mucha was working in a very traditional manner in that regard, as pretty much since the end of the Italian Renaissance most European artists had chosen to use oils instead. He would naturally have to persist this decision throughout this body of work in order to ensure a consistent look across the series, but did continue to use other mediums in other parts of his career. Some are unaware of the fact that Mucha actually came up for the idea for his Slav Epic series many years before he actually started work on these paintings, perhaps needing financial support in order to make the project happen. Whilst very different from the illustrative work for which Mucha is most famous, this incredible series is still considered the highlight of his whole career.