Within the foreground we find two main figures, one with his arms outstretched on the left hand side, and another sitting with his head down nearer the right hand side. We see a number of boats and also a series of people who appear to be on the move, though they appear to be civilians, judging by their simple attire. We must therefore examine the history of the Czech people in order to shed more light on this composition. The people in front of us here are actually exiles from the region, living in the Netherlands. The town of Naarden has become their base, though this painting features a sombre reference to the last days of Jan Amos Komensky, who was a leading figure in the Slavic battle for a freedom of expression. Events back in their homeland had caused great upset for the exiled community, and they started to feel that perhaps all hope had been lost.
Many of the artworks found in the Slav Epic would teach us about the region's continued rejection of an interpretation of Catholicism which many felt was too strict and also did not respect the desires of the local community to run their country with a level of autonomy. There was also a predominantly Protestant population within this area as well. This brought them into conflict with Catholic Rome many times and it would be in 1619 that many were forced to leave having refused to convert to Catholicism. This attempt to force them to convert occurred shortly after Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II became King of Bohemia after a fierce battle. With regards the painting in front of us here, it tells of the last days of Jan Amos Komensky who would look out from the Dutch shoreline, seemingly accepting that his health was deteriorating rapidly and the end was nigh.
The atmosphere of this painting is beautifully set by the artist, with the solemn figure sat by himself. His head is bowed. Mourners look distraught both at his own suffering but also their predicament having been sent away from all that they know. We see many more arriving by boat, in seemingly windswept conditions as they journey across the shoreline. A small lamp lights up the centre of the painting, but its flame appears symbolically weak, perhaps signifying the fading hopes for this population. Whilst Mucha would paint his people with a positive bias in most cases, he was not afraid to draw attention to their suffering in some of the elements of this important body of work. He would also often focus on the aftermath of various events inorder to capture the emotional and physically results left behind by some of these key historical moments.