Ivan Meštrović Gallery, Ivan Meštrović Gallery, Ivan Meštrović Gallery, Ivan Meštrović Gallery
Ivan Meštrović was a famous Croatian sculptor and architect that highlighted the Croatian cultural life during the first half of the 20th century.
One of his most famous works is the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery. Ivan Meštrović Gallery is located in Meje, which is a western part of the city of Split. During the 1920s, Meštrović bought numerous parcels of land there, with the intent to build a residence for himself and a place where he could work. Mestrovic was the mastermind behind the project and he was the one who designed plans for the Gallery. Two other notable architects (Lavoslav Horvat and Harold Bilinić) helped with the design of the building and other architectural work, while constructional entrepreneur Marin Marasović oversaw and took care of the project execution. That trio helped make Meštrović’s designs and ideas become reality.
The construction work of Ivan Meštrović Gallery began in the late 1920s with the construction of the southern wall and two accompanying auxiliary buildings. Above the wall, a foot-path with accompanying stone columns and wooden beams was constructed. The eastern wing of the Villa contains an atelier with a work room in the ground level, and living quarters on the first floor. Work on this part of the building started in 1931. Next in line was the leveling of the ground surface, new walls were constructed and a new atelier was built. It served for clay modeling and its construction started in 1934.
In 1935 two new buildings were under construction. The two workshops would serve Meštrović to create the monument by the name ”Spomenik Neznanom Junaku” – eng. The Monument to the Unknow Hero. In 1937, the front porch was extended along with a driveway to the residence, the middle ground level of the Villa and the western wing of the Villa with the storage space for models. The park around the residence was furnished in accordance with Meštrović’s ideas and it features Mediterranean flora.
Meštrović’s concept of the Villa was based on his wishes to have a unique place where he could work, live and exhibits his works. The private aspects of his life were happening in the western and eastern wings of the Villa, while the public life took place in the middle part. Today the whole Villa is available to the public being a Ivan Meštrović Gallery. The only part that reminiscent of its private nature is the dining room.
Meštrović resided in the Villa until 1941, but it never became his permanent home like he wanted it to be. This happened because of the Italian occupation of Split when he was forced to escape to Zagreb in order to escape prosecution by the hands of Fascist Italy. In 1952, after he emigrated to the USA, he left his four objects along with 132 works of art to the Croatian people as a gift. This enabled the Villa to become a museum and a Ivan Meštrović Gallery.
Some of the most notable works of Ivan Meštrović that are featured in the Gallery are the marble masterpiece Psiha (eng. Psyche), bronze masterpieces Daleki Akordi (Distant Accords), Kiklop (Cyclopes), Perzefona (Persephone), wood masterpieces Žalosni anđeli (Sad Angels), Veseli Anđeli (Happy Angels) and plaster Pieta. These pieces encapsulate all of his creative work up until 1946 and all of them are housed in what is most likely his biggest achievement, Ivan Meštrović Gallery.
Internationally, one of the most popular Mestrovic’s masterpiece are The Bowman and Spearman sculptors in Chicago.
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