Grga Antunac
Engineer Dragutin Mandl, 1942
36 mm in diameter

A Mother with a Child, 1942
37 mm in diameter

Academically trained sculptor Grga Antunac was a respected medallist who created an original oeuvre in both metals and non-metals, such as ivory and wood. His socially engaged medals and plaques feature realistic figurative compositions, as do his visual designs for Yugoslav dinar coins.

What comes to the fore in Antunac’s portrait memorials is his sharp perception thanks to which he was able to portray the most distinctive features of his models. He engraved in ivory a portrait medal of engineer and collector Dragutin Mandl (1892-1959), whose medal and plaque collection forms the backbone of the medal collection of the National Museum of Modern Art. The facial features of Dragutin Mandl’s left-side profile are ascetically clean, with the focus being on the most prominent details of his face. Antunac’s Engineer Dragutin Mandl medal from 1942 is a brilliant example of his mastery of achieving close physical resemblance between his portraits and the portrayed, and at characterising them psychologically.

Antunac modelled his small medals of intimist motifs gently and poetically. He most often engraved treasured motifs on equally treasured material, such as ivory, matching motif with material. On his A Mother with a Child medal also from 1942, the broken folds of clothing are contrasted with the figures’ smoothly modelled featureless faces, thanks to which Antunac created a universal and intimist atmosphere suffused with the strength and tenderness of motherly love. He modelled the motif of a mother holding a child in her arms using clean and gentle lines, and he balanced the relationship between light and shadow, all of which is in harmony with the delicateness of ivory, a most prized material.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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