Biography

1883

Ivan Meštrović is born on 15 August in Vrpolje (Slavonia). His parents return to their hometown of Otavice, a small settlement in Dalmatian hinterland, where Ivan spends his childhood.

1899

One of his first literary attempts - the poem Vilo moja, pivat mi pomaži, dedicated to Father Andrija Kačić Miošić, is dated in Meštrović’s manuscript.

1900

He goes to Split to the stone carving studio of Pavao Bilinić, where the master’s wife Regina Bilinić, born Vecchietti teaches him to draw, and prof. Ante Bezić takes him into an evening apprenticeship course at the Intermediate secondary school in Split. He goes to Vienna, but due to his inadequate formal requirements (lack of prior education) he fails to enroll in the academy.

1901

Being previously prepared for the entrance exam by the sculptor Otto König, he enrolls in the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts (the sculptor class of Edmund Hellmer, then the sculptor class Hans Bitterlich).

1902

He meets Auguste Rodin at the Academy (based on Meštrović’s memories: Quelques souvenirs sur Rodin, Annales de l'Institut Français de Zagreb, 1937).

1903

For the first time he participates in the exhibition of the Association of Fine Artists of Austria – Secession, their XVII exhibition, and with the Mánes association in Prague in their X exhibition.

1904

He graduates from the sculptor class at the Academy, after which he enrolls in a study of architecture. He meets Ruža Klein (his first wife). With his friend Tomislav Krizman, he organizes an exhibition at the studio (Beatrix Gasse 14a). He exhibits with the Viennese association of artists Hagenbund (XVI exhibition) for the first time.

1905

He participates in the anniversary exhibition of the Art Society in Zagreb, where his work Mother and Child was bought for the Austrian emperor. The sculptor's first public sculpture, the bust of Luka Botić, was set up at Botićeva poljana in Split (today's Trg Republike) on 5 November.

1906

He is a participant of the International Art Exhibition in London (The Pavilion of Austria - Dalmatian Section). He organizes an independent exhibition in Split. He has completed two years of his study of architecture under Friedrich Ohmann. He is enrolled as a regular member of the Association of Fine Artists of Austria – Secession.

1907

He married Ruža Klein (1883 - 1942) on 29 April at the Church of John of Nepomuk in Vienna. He participates in the VII Biennale in Venice for the first time.

1908

With the financial support of Karl Wittgenstein he goes to live in Paris, where he rents a studio in Montparnasse, on Impasse de Maine. He exhibits at Salon d'Automne in Paris. He works intensively on Kosovo fragments (Vidovdan Temple). He participates in the First Dalmatian Art Exhibition held at the newly constructed building of the Croatian House in Split (the exhibition was a kind of a prelude to the founding of the Association of Croatian Artists Medulić).

1909

He founds the Association of Croatian Artists Medulić in Split with Emanuel Vidović and other artists from Split.

1910

He exhibits many of his works at the XXXV Exhibition of Vienna Secession. The works are transferred to Zagreb, where he has the exhibition The Cycle of Prince Marko at the Art Pavillion with the painter Mirko Račić. He will then have an exhibition with the Medulić Society in the same space under Vojnović’s motto In defiance of unheroic times. The Fountain of Life by Meštrović in 1905 was purchased for a public space of the city of Zagreb.

1911

At the International Exhibition in Rome, he presents fragments of the Kosovo Cycle, including the equestrian sculpture of Prince Marko, which was later destroyed. He won the first prize for sculpture.

1912

The Fountain of Life is installed in front of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.

1913

He stays and works in Rome and Belgrade. After a longer period of time, he makes his first sculptures with sacral themes.

1914

He has a solo exhibition at the XI Biennale in Venice. He prepares a solo exhibition in Split, which is then prohibited by a decision of the Austrian authorities. He meets Rodin in Rome and portrays him on two occasions.

1915

Politically active in Paris and London. Solo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

1916

He stays in Paris and Geneva. In Geneva he completes the Crucifixion, now located at the Church of Holy Cross in Meštrović’s Crikvine-Kaštilac in Split.

1917

He lives in Cannes and Paris. He makes wooden reliefs that will become part of the Life of Christ cycle later set up in Crikvine-Kaštilac.

1919

He decides to settle in Zagreb. He exhibits at the Exhibition of Yugoslavian Artists from Dalmatia in Split. He continues with exhibitions in Great Britain. He is one of the organizers and participants of the Exhibition of Yugoslavian Artists at Petit Palais in Paris during the peace conference. He is elected honorary member of the Yugoslav Academy of Science and Arts in Zagreb. The first two monographs about the artist are published.

1920

He starts working on the votive cemetery chapel of Račić family (Our Lady of Angels) in Cavtat, which is finished in 1922. During this period, he meets his second wife, Olga Kesterčanek with whom he will have four children (Marta 1924 - 1949; Tvrtko 1925 - 1961; Marija 1927; Mate 1930).

1921

In Zagreb, he starts decorating the house and upgrading the studio in Mletačka ulica in Gornji grad (Upper Town). He starts to systematically buy land plots for the construction of the family mansion in Meje in Split.

1922

He becomes professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.

1923

He is appointed as rector at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.

1924

He travels to the USA and, after a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, he starts a series of exhibitions across the USA.

1925

On 26 July, the Statue of Marko Marulić (1924) is revealed at Trg braće Radić Square in Split. He has solo exhibitions in Buffalo, Detroit, Rochester, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston and Cleveland.

1926

The Statue of Josip Juraj Strossmayer is revealed in Zagreb.

1927

The Statue of bishop Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski) is finished.

1928

The Statue of Indians is revealed at the entrance of Grant Park in Chicago.

1929

The Statue of bishop Gregory of Nin is revealed at Peristil in Split.

1931

The construction works on the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer near Otavice (family tomb) are finished.

1932

He has a solo exhibition at the Art Pavillion in Zagreb. He forms sculptures and reliefs for the Church of St. Mark in the Upper Town in Zagreb.

1933

He has solo exhibitions in Paris (Jeu de paume des Tuileries) and Prague (Pavillion of Queen Anne „Belvedere“ in Hradčani). He opens the Meštrović Gallery in Ilica 12 in Zagreb (open until 1937).

1934

He becomes a regular member of the Yugoslav Academy of Science and Arts.

1938

He finishes the construction of the House of Fine Arts in Zagreb and the conceptual solution for the Church of Our Lady in Biskupija near Knin.

1939

He completes the representative family palace in Meje (1931 - 1939) in Split (today Meštrović Gallery - exhibition space with a permanent exhibition of his works, which operates as part of the Ivan Meštrović Museums). He starts the reconstruction of the 16th century Capogrosso fortress (1939 - 1941) in Split, today Meštrović’s Crikvine-Kaštilac. The statue of the Romanian King Ferdinand I. is revealed in Bucharest.

1941

Completed adaptation of the Crikvine-Kaštilac complex in Split with the Church of the Holy Cross, intended for exhibiting wooden reliefs. At the moment of Italian occupation he is in Split, from where he went to Zagreb where he is interned by the Ustaše regime. On the sixth night, without prior hearing, he is supposed to be liquidated. The Italian government removes the Statue of bishop Gregory of Nin from Peristil.

1942

Having been released from prison and house arrest, he leaves for Italy (Rome) and Switzerland (Lausanne, Genéve). He exhibits at the XXIII Biennale in Venice.

1945

His book Dennoch will ich hoffen… Ein Weihnachtsgespräch, Zürich (I still hope or Christmas Conversations) is published. He produces several paintings on wood with religious themes.

1947

At the invitation of the American Academy of Science and Arts, he exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum in New York as the first living artist for whom the Museum organized an exhibition. He settles in Syracuse, New York, where he is appointed as professor at the School of Arts at Syracuse University.

1950

Exhibition of 25 reliefs dedicated to the Church of the Holy Cross at Hendricks Chapel, Syracuse University.

1951

On December 14, he is appointed as honorary member of the Academy of Arts in Vienna.

1952

He donates his house and studio in Zagreb (Atelier Meštrović), the family mansion in Split (Gallery Meštrović), the western part of Crikvine-Kaštilac in Split, the family tomb, i.e. the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer near Otavice, as well as a great number of his works, to the Republic of Croatia. The donations are now unified as the Ivan Meštrović Museums with the central office in Split.

1953

At the end of the year, wooden reliefs were delivered to the Church of the Holy Cross (Crikvine-Kaštilac) in Split, where they were exhibited the following year.

1954

He becomes a citizen of the USA. The Statue of bishop Gregory of Nin is placed in front of the Golden Gate of Diocletian's Palace in Split.

1955

He settles in South Bend, Indiana, USA and becomes a professor at the postgraduate studies of the Catholic University of Notre Dame.

1956

The Statue of Ruđer Bošković (1937) is revealed in the park of Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb.

1959

For the first time after having left, he comes for a short visit to his home country.

1960

He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Literature.

1961

His book Memories of Political People and Events is published in Buenos Aires for the first time. The Republic of Austria awards him with the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.

1962

He dies on 16 January in South Bend. He is buried on January 24 in the family tomb near Otavice.

English