Don Frane Bulić, 1929
bronze / casting
53 x 43.5 x 31 cm
Born in the Dalmatian hinterland, and after a period of self-taught work and apprenticeship in the stonemasonry workshop of Pavle Bilinić in Split, Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962) went to Vienna for further education, where he studied under renowned architect Otto Wagner, among others. His sculptural work is characterized by the influences of the Vienna Secession (at whose exhibition in 1903 he exhibited his works publicly for the first time), Auguste Rodin, and a fascination with ancient Egyptian and Assyrian sculpture. As part of Meštrović’s strong political engagement, his time in the Medulić Association of Croatian Artists, where he acted as an ideologist and initiator of this national-romantic artistic group, holds significant importance. On the eve of World War I, he turned his attention to religious themes, which increasingly gained significance in his life and work. He was one of the few Croatian sculptors to receive international recognition during his lifetime, notably, his public sculptures of the Indians (The Bowman and The Spearman) which were installed in Chicago in 1928. He also engaged in teaching work in the United States, in Syracuse and South Bend.
The Bust of Don Frane Bulić from 1929 was created during Meštrović’s artistically prolific period when he returned to his homeland after World War I and served as the rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb from 1923 to 1942. The 1920s were a decade when Meštrović turned more strongly towards the classical component in his artistic expression. Through the realistically depicted portrait of this Catholic intellectual, Meštrović pays tribute to the pioneer of Croatian archaeological science, particularly notable for his studies of early Christian and early Croatian history on Dalmatian soil.
Text: Ph.D. Ivana Rončević Elezović, 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