(1883 – 1962)
Girl with a Lute, 1918
45.5 x 27 x 19.5 cm
Ivan Meštrović is Croatia’s preeminent modern sculptor, who was educated in the atmosphere of the Vienna Secession and is its most prominent representative in the medium of sculpture. The artistic value of Meštrović’s monumental, religious and intimate works is universal. His continuous Secession morphology has developed and become increasingly more subtle and refined at the end of the second decade of the twentieth century, when, in addition to religious subject-matter, he developed musical themes translated into melodic forms of reduced anatomy and subtle linearity, such as the elegant curved figures of women with stringed instruments, which he increasingly minimised, almost reducing them to a disembodied mass with elegantly entwined hands picking at non-existing instruments.
With its musical theme shaped in the style of Art Nouveau, the stylised portrait of a Girl with a Lute belongs to this series of sculptures. The elegant figure of a girl is depicted with her head bowed, engrossed in music, her eyes downcast, while her arm is bent clinging to her elongated neck and her long fingers are touching the strings of the lute. The separated thumb and forefinger indicate the movement used to pluck the strings of a supposed musical instrument. In this sense, we can speak of an artistically abstract concept and an embodiment of music that is inherently esoteric and invisible. Accordingly, the sculptural representation with a thin, shallow base is executed in half volume in the form of a mould with a hollow reverse side.
Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023