The series titled Times of the Day by Alfons Mucha, which dates from 1899, comprises four color lithographs set in wooden frames crafted especially for the works. However, at an auction in Ostrava on Sunday no one even placed a bid for the pieces by the world-famous Czech art nouveau artist.
The collection’s owner inherited the works from his grandmother, who was given them by Mucha himself as a gesture of his love for her. Each work depicts various stages of day: Morning Awakening, Brightness of Day, Evening Contemplation, and Nightly Rest. The unique frames were designed by Mucha himself and crafted in Vienna.
Petr Kobert, director of the Antiques Art Auctions which held the Sunday’s auction in Ostrava, told Czech Position that he had not expected the works to find a buyer on Sunday. “It’s a bad time of year for auctions, and what’s more there was almost no publicity,” he said, adding the works were added to the catalogue of lots only 14 days before the auction.
Kobert said the works will be displayed and offered for sale at the Antiques Fare at the Prague New Town Town Hall (Novoměstská radnice) on April 26 through to 29 — where he expects a buyer will be found, if not sooner. The firm is offering the works for sale beforehand for the starting price of Kč 390,000 at last Sunday’s auction, plus 15 percent commission.
Held every six months since 2010, the antiques fare at the New Town Town Hall attracts regularly attracts some 10,000 visitors.
While the four Mucha lithographs could attract the interest of potential buyers from abroad, it’s by no means certain that permission from the Ministry of Culture to export the works would be granted, Kobert warned.
Mucha’s most famous works, the Slav Epic series, are the subject of a long-running dispute between the town of Moravský Krumlov — nearby Mucha’s birthplace — where the large oil paintings have been displayed for some 45 years, and the City of Prague which claims legal rights to display the pictures and argues that many more people would see the works if displayed in the Czech capital.
Mucha’s designs include the famous original cast-iron signs for Paris metro stations.