Robert Frangeš-Mihanović, Summer, 1903

Robert Frangeš-Mihanović
(1872 – 1940)
Summer, 1903
bronze; silver plated
295 x 229 mm

With his free and innovative approach to sculpture, Robert Frangeš-Mihanović confidently anticipated the impressionist and symbolic characteristics and aspirations of the new art at the turn of the century. For his master of execution and feeling for materials, primarily bronze, and his painterly understanding of relief, he is regarded as one for the the finest European artists of his time. This is most evident in his plaques and medals, which brought him international acclaim.
Frangeš’s medals and plaques with animalistic and figural motifs (such as The Bull and Stallion from 1895, Winegrowers from 1900) marked the beginning of Croatian modern medal making. Influenced by the giants of French Art Nouveau medal making, Jules-Clément Chaplain and Oscar Roty, the young Croatian artist advanced the art of medal design by introducing the Renaissance form of the plaque and enriching the allegorical content, further affirming the medal as a work of art.
His Art Nouveau cycle The Four Seasons, a series of small masterpieces created in 1903, is the best example of his free approach to composition and motif, characterised by lyrical modelling. Each of the four cast bronze one-sided plaques depicts a season represented by the heads of young maidens.
The unique plaque Summer from the NMMA collection, features the profile of a girl facing left inside a rectangular field. Her features are idealised, with a gracefully stylised semi-long, lush, flowing hair with hair tips stylised in the form of roses. The signature is in the bottom right corner. Below the frame, there is an inscription in two lines dedicated to the renowned Croatian cultural figure: DRU IZIDORU / KRŠNJAVIU. In the bottom right corner, there are three shields (Triune Kingdom). The plaque is applied to leather covers of the folder, with silk dark red inserts.
Despite their limited quantity, Frangeš’s sculptural-medallist works portray him as an authentic interpreter and exponent of the prevailing European artistic processes and events of that time. He liberated relief sculpture from Renaissance and classicist models, elevating it to the status of an independent artistic discipline.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, musem consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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