Dorset and Somerset solicitors firm Humphries Kirk has played a significant role in bringing the Mucha Foundation’s family collection of the most important works of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha to the UK, with an exclusive exhibition premiering in Bournemouth this spring.
Because of their historical professional connection with the Mucha Foundation, Humphries Kirk solicitors have sponsored the museum to help attract visitors to the specially commissioned exhibition ‘Alphonse Mucha: In Quest of Beauty’ which takes place at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, from Wednesday April 1 to Sunday September 27. This is the first exhibition of its kind in the UK for more than 15 years.
James Selby Bennett, senior commercial partner at Humphries Kirk, has a special connection with the exhibition because he and Humphries Kirk were instrumental in helping Alphonse Mucha’s family to save the collection and Mucha’s artistic heritage for the world.
The Mucha story dates back to the 19th century, when Alphonse Mucha was a struggling artist working in Paris and was asked to create a poster to promote a play in which actress, Sarah Bernhardt, was starring. The actress was so impressed with Mucha’s work that it kick-started his career, and he went on to become the internationally famous and influential artist and founder of the Art Nouveau movement.
In the Second World War after Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, Mucha was arrested and died soon after. After this time, Czechoslovakia became a communist state and Mucha’s art collection was considered to be bourgeois and decadent. However, in the 1960s his collection grew in fame and popularity throughout the free world and the Mucha family had great difficulty in protecting his artistic heritage and saving the family collection.
By the 1980s, Alphonse’s grandson John worked closely with Humphries Kirk who, drawing on their experience as international lawyers, helped him to take the necessary steps in Czech Republic, the UK and Liechtenstein to preserve Mucha’s artistic heritage and the collection itself for current and future generations.
James Selby Bennett, commented: “I well remember the dark days of uncertainty and repression around the time of the Velvet Revolution in Prague. Alphonse’s works and heritage were under considerable threat. The advice that we gave the Mucha family proved resilient and Humphries Kirk are very pleased to have played our (not inconsiderable) part.”