(1883 – 1962)
Mother and Child, 1915
67.5 x 27.5 x 18.5 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.
Meštrović’s spiritual maturation and interest in universal themes with religious postulates followed after the grandiose Secession phase and after he moved away from the national mythological cycle. This conceptual change was also accompanied with a stylistic change by synthesising Gothic elements and departing slightly from Art Nouveau. Re-examining his own national illusion, he resorted to religious expressive motifs and elongated figures, such as the universal representation of motherhood in the iconic work Mother and Child placed on a high throne, with elongated proportions and restrained gesture. A seated figure of a woman and a nude child in her lap are positioned frontally. The contours of the young woman’s body are outlined under a thin tunic, and she is wearing a scarf around her long face with a tender expression, while her long neck and head are tilted to the left. Both mother and child have their hands raised in a gesture resembling the depictions of the Virgin Mary with baby Jesus in icons. A nude child with a plump body is resting his head and back against the mother’s front and is supported by the woman’s crossed left leg. The elegance and sensuality of the long crossed legs point to a secular representation of a mother and child.
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