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Slavia Insurance Company

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Alphonse Maria Mucha (1860 - 1939) was a Czech Art Nouveau painter. However, he did a great many posters and prints. The period of his work has become known as the Belle Époque. "Slavia," the personification of the Slavic people, was also the name chosen for this bank and insurance company founded in Prague in 1869. With Czechoslovakia still under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the name was clearly intended to attract, assure and perhaps even inspire citizens with Slavic heritage. Designed while Mucha was living in America (note the "NY" he included in front of his name), the image is laden with symbolic imagery. Slavia holds a ring in her hand which symbolizes unity (i.e. pan Slavism) and on either side of her chair sits a stylized falcon (in Czech, sokol), the name given to the Czech nationalist movement. This poster is based on Mucha's painted portrait of Josephine Crane Bradley, the daughter of his friend and patron, Charles R. Crane. The image was also used in the 1920s on a Czech 100 krone note.