A Philosopher, 1897
Robert Frangeš-Mihanović was a prominent modern Croatian sculptor and medallist, who studied in Vienna (1889-1895) and Paris (1900-1901), where he became friends and socialised with Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (1907), and was amongst the first instigators and promoters of artistic life in Zagreb.
Frangeš-Mihanović 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 from 1893.
The different stages of development of his career featured different styles, ranging from Academicism through Symbolism to Modernism, i.e. the earliest instances of Impressionism in Croatian sculpture. His mature work reveals his own expression featuring Realism in his unrestrained modelling of figures.
In the initial stage of his career (1893-1914), he succeeded in harmonising the stylistic features and elements of Art Nouveau, Symbolism and Impressionism, which is why the works he modelled then are considered to be of the highest quality in his entire oeuvre.
Frangeš-Mihanović’s A Philosopher sculpture is from this period. It is a study of his that he did for his Philosophy relief, the most original of the four allegories he modelled for four buildings of the University of Zagreb. Philosophy adorns the Golden Hall of what was then the palace of the government’s Department of Worship and Teaching (10 Opatička Street in Zagreb’s Upper Town), headed by his patron (and art historian, politician, painter and writer) Izidor Kršnjavi.
The form of Frangeš-Mihanović’s A Philosopher is compact and is modelled in the spirit of Rodin’s concise representation of a powerful inner substance.
Text: Tatijana Gareljić, 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