(1883 – 1962)
Socrates / Plato, 1954
bronze, pr=73 mm
Ivan Meštrović, the greatest Croatian sculptor, is known for his monumental works around the world. From the beginning of his prolific sculptural work, he occasionally also designed impressive medal works imbued with greatness and strength in equal measure.
The Socrates / Plato medal, created for the Medal Society from New York is considered the most successful of the five forged medals of sculptor Ivan Meštrović, created in the United States from 1952 to 1958. Two ancient philosophers personify the portrayal of truth as the noblest task of mankind. On the obverse is a stylized figural depiction of Socrates addressing his disciples and an inscription in English on the edge: Socrates Discussing with His Disciples. On the reverse is a figure of Socrates’ disciple Plato who is writing on a board inspired by the depicted young genius. On the edge there is an inscription in English: The Philosopher in the Grip of Inspiration. Meštrović’s medals are consistent in their expression, despite his only casual involvement in this specific branch of sculpture in a long half-century interval. The effect of depth and volume is achieved by a shallow incised relief with clean and calm lines and flat surfaces that take over the function of artistry. Two more medals with matching poetics and the aforementioned characteristics are also kept in the holdings of the National Museum of Modern Art, specifically the Archers of Domagoj from 1931 and a medal of the PEN Congress held in Dubrovnik in 1933.
Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb