"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Saturday, March 02, 2019

Alphonse Mucha: Corrections to Fraternal Review Article

In January, Brother Angel Millar sent me a note while I was on the road asking if he could reprint a brief blog entry I wrote in 2016 about famed Art Nouveau artist and Freemason, Alphonse Mucha. Brother Millar had been asked to act as a "guest editor" of the Southern California Research Lodge's excellent Fraternal Review magazine, and the issue was dedicated to Art and Freemasonry. At the time, I told him what I always tell anyone who asks to reprint things from this blog - feel free to use anything I post here, as long as you properly acknowledge where you got it from. Which he did.

Well, shame on me for not going back and re-reading the post and re-checking everything I had written before. I can't recall where I found the various details of Mucha's Masonic career at the time - I've slept since then (and on a damned uncomfortable trailer mattress to boot, I might add). Additionally, as I remember, I attempted to cull the information using that most dangerous of tools, language translation software. My personal library had almost nothing about him, so I remember checking several Czechoslovakian and French Masonic websites in an attempt to verify what I was claiming in the brief post. Foolish boy. I should have gone to a better personal source I had forgotten about.

The Fraternal Review issue came out last week, and a pretty piece of work it is, too. However, I was almost immediately contacted by longtime Internet friend, Illus. Jacques Huyghebaert, 33°, who is a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic. He had several corrections to the article, and I humbly present his message in its entirety:
Dear Brother Chris,
I just read your article in the March 2019 S.C.R.L. Fraternal Review (page 13) about Brother Alphonse Mucha.

I am curious to know your source of information, but I would like to draw your attention on two errors.

1. Alphonse Mucha did not become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Czechoslovakia in 1923. He was never its Grand Master, never a Grand Officer, nor even at any time the Master of any craft lodge, although upon his 70th birthday (in 1930) he was awarded the symbolic title of “Grand Master of Czechoslovak Freemasonry” a title which was purely honorary and had no motivation other than the desire to please him. There were at the time two regular Grand Lodges in Czechoslovakia (in amity with each other).

2. Alphonse Mucha was mainly if not exclusively active in the Scottish Rite.
He was the only Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council 33rd A&ASR for Czechoslovakia from 1922 (at its foundation) to 1939 at his death.

Regarding the contribution of Alphonse Mucha to the revival of Freemasonry after World War I, it was not as important some may think in a Masonic context, because in 1919, although having been initiated 20 years earlier, Alphonse Mucha was still a Fellowcraft and as such he was not qualified to be a founder member of Comenius Lodge.

In the wider public perspective Alphonse Mucha was however a very popular figure and as such a great asset at the revival of Freemasonry at the birth of the Czechoslovak state.

Considered by many as the main Art Nouveau figure head, Mucha’s reputation was worldwide.

Mucha had lived for 20 years in Paris, spoke French and English fluently, he had the moved to the US and spent WW1 in New York.

Upon his return to Prague in 1919 he was welcomed as a hero and played indeed a role as a public relations man not only in “marketing” the new Czechoslovak state, but also (informally) by using his links and personal contacts with the Grand Orient of France (of which he was a member), to get the French Minister of War to travel from Paris and consecrate Comenius Lodge in Prague.

A little know fact is that the Supreme Council 33 of Czechoslovakia was created one year BEFORE that Grand Lodge of Czechoslovakia was formerly constituted.

Sincerely and fraternally
Jacques Huyghebaert, 33°
Southern Research Lodge of California (member)
Grand Lodge of the Czech Republic (Past Grand Master)
My apologies to all for the errors, and my thanks to Jacques to correcting the record.

I urge all Masons to consider a membership/subscription to the Southern California Research Lodge. Fraternal Review, despite my own gaffes in the current issue, is always excellent, beautifully formatted, and has recently taken unique approaches to Masonic education. You won't be disappointed.

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