Ivan Meštrović Part 3 : Belgrade

Meštrović was invited to Belgrade in 1913 to give sculptural form to the aspirations of the new kingdom. In the public works that followed he forged his monumental and severe classical style. Today, the city is dotted with these impressive figures: the Victor in Kalemegdan, turned to face the defeated Austro-Hungarian Empire; Gratitude to France for the soldiers lost in the First World War, or the huge Monument to the Unknown Hero at Avala with its giant and impassive peasant women, mothers of the seven slavic states and of all the boys who died. These were the years when Meštrović was known abroad as ‘The Serbian National Sculptor’. Croatian-born and Roman Catholic, he was committed to a united slav state. This led him to engage with the orthodox heritage of Serbia, one of the first and most ambitious projects being the fifty Kosovo Maidens (1908-12). The evident byzantianism of this public art – angular, simple, archaic – evolved as a patriotic idiom. His general impact is evident too, notably in a pair of figures struggling with powerful horses designed by Tomas Rosandić for the Parliament of Yugoslavia in 1938, and now called the National Assembly of Serbia.

Victory, erected 1928, Belgrade

Victory, erected 1928, Belgrade

Monument to France, Belgrade, c1930s

Monument to France, Belgrade, c1930s

Monument to the Unknown Hero, Avala, 1934-8

Monument to the Unknown Hero, Avala, 1934-8

Tomas Rosandić, Figures struggling with a Horse, House of the National Assembly of Serbia, Belgrade, 1938

Tomas Rosandić, Figures struggling with a Horse, Belgrade, 1938

Meštrović today: Descent from the Cross, (1917) sold by Sotheby's in 2008 for $300,000

Meštrović today: Descent from the Cross, (1917)
sold in 2008 for $300,000

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