The painting captures Master Jan Hus preaching at the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague in 1412. The chapel
originally had four naves and Gothic vault. It was named in honour of the children killed at Herod’s command after Jesus was born in Bethlehem. In Hus’s time it was the only place in Prague where preachers used the Czech language. The painting shows a view of the chapel from the altar steps. Jan Hus is preaching to the Prague people of all classes.

Sitting under the pulpit and taking notes carefully are his disciples. At that time Hus was not only a preacher but also the rector of Charles University. On the left, standing by the wall of the chapel next to the person shrouded in white is Jan Žižka of Trocnov, then a courtier of King Wenceslaus IV and chamberlain to Queen Sophia. The man dressed in black and sitting in front of him is shopkeeper Kříž, who donated a part of the land on which the chapel was built, next to him, dressed in red, is Hanus of Mülheim, who obtained the building permit and raised the money for the construction of the chapel.

Sitting under the baldachin on the right is Queen Sophia, whose confessor was Jan Hus; she would often plead on his behalf with her husband, King Wenceslaus IV. Her lady-in-waiting has the appearance of Mucha’s wife, Marie, née Chytilová. She is looking to the left where there is a hooded man in the corner behind the Romanesque baptistery. He is a spy of the Catholic priests who want to be informed of the content of Hus’s sermons. Hus criticised the wickedness of the Church and the selling of indulgences as a form of penitence.

In 1412, Prague was laid under interdict (a ban on attending religious services), which lasted until Jan Hus left the city. The painting was created in 1916, when a rental house still stood in the place of the Bethlehem Chapel. Leading Czech historians and the Old Prague Club (Klub za starou Prahu) later campaigned for the chapel to be rebuilt. In 1948, the Czechoslovak Government adopted a decision to rebuild the Bethlehem Chapel. It was finished, according to architect Jaroslav Fragner’s project, in 1954. That is why the interior of the chapel in the painting does not correspond to its current appearance.


  • Title: Master Jan Hus Preaching
  • Creator: Alphonse Mucha
  • Date Created: 1916
  • Physical Dimensions: 8.10 x 6.10

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