Robert Frangeš – Mihanović, Saint Dominic, 1893

Robert Frangeš - Mihanović
(1872 – 1940)
Saint Dominic, 1893
carving, Carrara marble
69 x 25.5 x 21.7 cm

Robert Frangeš-Mihanović was a prominent modern Croatian sculptor and medallist, who studied first in Vienna (1889-1895) and then in Paris (1900-1901), where he became friends and socialised with A. Rodin and M. Rosso. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (1907), and was amongst the first instigators and organisers of artistic life in Zagreb.
Frangeš was a master at, first and foremost, bronze sculpture, although he was just as skilful at working with marble, a fine example of which is his portrait bust of Saint Dominic (1893). His artistic development reveals different styles, ranging from Academicism through Symbolism to Modernism, that is, the earliest instances of Impressionism in Croatian sculpture. His mature work reveals his own expression featuring Realism in the unrestrained modelling of figures.
In 1892, Robert Frangeš-Mihanović went on a study trip to Italy (Venice, Padua, Florence) where he became acquainted with ancient sculpture and Roman portraiture, as well as the works of the great Italian Renaissance sculptor Donatello. In addition to his first portrait of a Roman Citizen, in 1893, Frangeš-Mihanović also sculpted the bust of Saint Dominic in Carrara marble, executed in the naturalistic and realistic manner. Saint Dominic is depicted in a monk’s habit with a hood. On the front side, under the bust, there is a relief depicting a rosary on top of a book, a goose quail and an inkstand. The figure is shaped without idealisation, the neck and face revealing dry, sagging skin of an old man, sunken eyes and tightly pressed dry lips. The portrayed face reflects fatigue and profound wisdom, as well as individual psychology. Frangeš-Mihanović received awards for this sculpture in Budapest in 1896 and in Paris in 1900.

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

Celestin Mato Medović, Bacchanal, 1893

Celestin Mato Medović
Bacchanal, 1893
oil on canvas
206.5x395 cm

Thanks to some of his more freely conceived works, Celestin Mato Medović (1857-1920) was a painter who, besides Vlaho Bukovac, paved the way for early Modernism. Since he came from a family of modest means, to be able to study painting he decided to get ordained. In 1880, he first travelled to Rome where he got acquainted with the Nazarene movement, and then to Florence where he adopted Narrative Realism, a manner of Academicism of the era. Medović returned to Dubrovnik in 1886 and painted sacral compositions. Thanks to historian, politician and writer Franjo Rački, Medović continued his education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich (1888-1893), where he was taught by Alexander Wagner, a painter of historical compositions. Upon his return to the town of Kuna and under the influence of symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin, he painted heavy and dark coloured landscapes. In 1895, he got acquainted in Zagreb with Bukovac’s variant of plein-air painting, which features the dissolution of strict academic forms and a light palette, later called the Colourful School of Zagreb. Due to a disagreement with Izidor Kršnjavi – the Minister of Education and Religion in the Károly Khuen-Héderváry administration who commissioned Medović to paint four historical compositions in the hall of the Department of Worship and Teaching – Medović lost his studio in Zagreb and returned to Kuna. There he painted his famous landscapes of Pelješac full of plein-air light, realistic portraits and still lifes.
Medović painted the Bacchanal, a composition of impressive dimensions, in the spirit of Munich’s decorative and historical Academicism. To compose the painting’s scene of pagan debauchery, the young monk Medović applied a linear perspective and structured the composition by toning down the colours. Bacchanal’s static characters do not possess the immediacy of the studies and compositions he drew and modelled in 1890 on life models. The pronounced descriptiveness of some parts of the painting – such as the floor mosaics or the marble columns decorated with garlands of flowers – was a pinnacle of technical perfection and reflects the taste of the time, thanks to which the painting won many awards and was exhibited across Europe.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, 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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