Ivan Meštrović *1883, 1962† was a Croat (Hrvat) sculptor. In America, where he was a professor at Notre Dame (and previously, Syracuse), he is known as a sculptor of religious subjects. Meštrović has many prominent public works in the Jugoslav cities of Split, Beograd, Zagreb, Novi Sad and Chicago. In Grant Park Chicago, he has two equestrian statues of Indians. They are art deco pieces cast in Zagreb. The Chicago Indians are warriors, the Bowman and the Spearman, with invisible weapons.
As a boy his ability to carve was noticed. He was schooled in Split, and then the imperial capital (Vienna). After exhibitions in Zagreb and Vienna (with the Secessionists), he went to the capital of world culture — Paris and was a student of Rodin 1907-9. Before the Great War ended his work was presented in those capitals, Rome, and London.
He worked and created much. A lot of Jugoslav cultural past — historical, religious, folkloric subject œuvre, including a project for Kosovo that will never be finished. There is solidity in his creation, but diversity in style. He made formal, royal, propaganda statues. He did female nudes akin to Arisitide Maillol. There is some rough Rodin. There are mediæval peasant Slavonic forms, and Croat bishops.
In several of his religious works he chose the great writers — John the Evangelist, Jerome. Meštrović was a political prisoner under the Ustaše. He sculpted the suffering prophet Job, when released to Rome. Moses, he also came to again for a subject.
The original model is of thumb pats of clay, Rodinesque bronzed. The brow, forehead and hair are thick knots. Two tufts of hair are smallish horns of Michelangelo. To the left is a processional torah scroll. The left hand is almost a fist. In many of his statues, the hands are large, and raised. Is Moses in struggle? consternation? turmoil? He is profoundly serious and troubled. Meštrović is always sincere, and dignified.