Frane Cota
(1898 – 1951)
Bust of a Woman (Portrait of My Wife), 1936
49.5 x 45.5 x 23 cm

After having graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1924, sculptor and architect Frane Cota then obtained a degree in architecture in Zagreb in 1929. He spent some time in Prague, Paris and Italy. Between 1934 and 1950 he taught architectural drawing at the Institute of Technology in Zagreb and in 1941 he started teaching drawing at the Teachers College in Zagreb.
Cota was an outstanding figure in Croatian modern art. Although he considered himself primarily a sculptor, he was just as successful as an architect whose understanding of space was functionalist and whose feeling for volume was sculptural. As a sculptor, he was initially influenced by the Vienna Secession and sculptor Ivan Meštrović, but soon transformed into a modernist favouring Realism. From amongst his sculptural works, his portraits, nudes, figures and reliefs stand out. He also created medals and plaques, such as the King Tomislav plaque from 1925.
The sculptor modelled the portrait of his wife Mrs. M. Cota with her head in profile and the bust cut at breast height. Academicism prevails in the manner of execution of this elegant bust, with a realistic understanding of portrait sculpture that Cota adopted like the other sculptors who exhibited at the Spring Salon, after having adapted it to his own artistic poetics. He emphasises the full volume and clear contour lines. Short, slightly wavy hair is parted in the middle and swept behind the ears. Her facial expression is calm with a subdued smile. The eyelids are accentuated and without pupils, as in most sculptures from that decade. The young woman’s bare shoulders and bust, with only a thin horizontal edge of clothing around the bust, emphasise her buxomness. This intimate and unobtrusive work stands out with its simple idea and discreet posture.

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

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