Throughout the second decade of the 20th century, Ivan Meštrović bought plots in the area of Meje, the western part of Split, with the intention of building his future residence. Construction works began at the end of the 1920s. The land is fenced in by a southern wall with two auxiliary buildings right next to the entrance (according to the project by Fabijan Kaliterna) over which a promenade with stone columns and wooden beams would be erected at a later point, and farther in the direction from the east a villa would be built. For this representative architectural structure Ivan Meštrović, the alpha and omega of the idea of the project, collaborated with architect Lavoslav Horvat and for the construction of the building project with Harold Bilinić and construction entrepreneur Marin Marasović, the head of the performance of the entire structure.
About the Gallery Throughout the second decade of the 20th century, Ivan Meštrović bought plots in the area of Meje, the western part of Split, with the intention of building his future residence. Construction works began at the end of the 1920s. The land is fenced in by a southern wall with two auxiliary buildings right next to the entrance (according to the project by Fabijan Kaliterna) over which a promenade with stone columns and wooden beams would be erected at a later point, and farther in the direction from the east a villa would be built. For this representative architectural structure Ivan Meštrović, the alpha and omega of the idea of the project, collaborated with architect Lavoslav Horvat and for the construction of the building project with Harold Bilinić and construction entrepreneur Marin Marasović, the head of the performance of the entire structure. 0123 02-galerija The artist left them to elaborate his own conceptual sketches of his future structure. The construction of the eastern wing with the studio and office in the ground floor and the living spaces on the first floor began in 1931. In the course of the works, the terrain is straitened, the supporting and new fence walls are erected, the auxiliary studio for modeling sculptures in clay is built (1934), and outside the complex of the villa, towards the sea, two workshops are built for the carving of caryatids of the Monument to the Unknown Hero on Avala. In 1937, the entrance porch is extended, the vehicle access road is constructed, the central ground-floor part of the house is built and, finally, during 1938 and 1939, the west wing of the building with a storage room for models and the central hall of the first floor are built.
According to Meštrović’s instructions, the park horticulture is designed and Mediterranean herbs are planted. Meštrović’s concept of the villa in Meje was based on three purposes: work, living and exhibiting, which are becoming more and more spatially defined as construction progresses. The functions merged under the attribute ‘private’ were placed in the spacious wings, while those of public character were placed in the central body of the house. Today, when the gallery content prevailed, only the original appearance of the dining room evokes the intimacy of what was then the artist’s home and his life in it
The villa in Meje was the favourite residence of Ivan Meštrović and his family since the summer of 1932, but despite the artist’s desire, it did not become his permanent residence. In April 1941, on the occasion of the death of Marta Meštrović, Ivan’s mother, the family gathered there for the last time. They were caught by the Italian occupation of the city. To avoid arrest, Meštrović goes to Zagreb where he will soon find himself behind bars of Ustaša prison, while his wife and children will finally leave the Split home one year later. Their correspondence from the time is preserved in the Gallery of Ivan Meštrović as part of the family archive. After the family had left, the property and the house were first looked after Meštrović friend, writer Milan Ćurčin, who lived on site, followed by art historian dr. Cvito Fisković. The artist’s relatives, as well as other families, lived in the villa until 1965
In the Deed of Donation of 31 January 1952, Ivan Meštrović donated four of his buildings and 132 works of art to the Croatian people. According to the attached list, the works were included in the composition of each building, creating thus the preconditions for the formation of the Meštrović Gallery as a museum institution
The Gallery holds the artist’s masterpieces made of marble (Psyche, 1927, Contemplation, 1924), bronze (Distant Chords, 1918, Cyclops, 1933, Persephone, 1946, Virgin and Child, 1917, Job, 1946), wood (Grieving Angels and Merry Angels, 1916), and plaster (Pietà, 1946), which cover all of the periods of the artist’s prolific creation until 1946.
The permanent setting follows the spatial-thematic definitions. The central hall in the ground floor is decorated as a representative entrance space. It mostly holds marble sculptures. The dining room has kept the original character of the artist’s home. It contains Meštrović’s furniture, several paintings and bronze portraits of family members. The large exhibition hall on the eastern side of the ground floor is dedicated to sacral sculpture, an important theme of Meštrović’s art. The hall is dominated by wooden sculptures of Adam and Eve (1939 – 1941). Alongside the sacral setting, a special space is dedicated to the monumental sculpture Pietà. The hall of the western wing on the first floor displays Meštrović’s works inspired by Impressionism, Secession and Art-Déco. The eastern hall holds sculptures created mainly between the two world wars. Next to it, there is an interesting special hall dedicated to the theme of Job. The large central hall of the first floor is intended for exhibiting sculptures, but also for occasional cultural events in the Gallery. Additionally, the permanent exhibition of the sculptures on the first floor is completed by Meštrović’s drawings.
In addition to museum artefacts (sculptures, drawings, paintings, architectural drawings and furniture), the Gallery preserves documentation referring to the life and opus of Ivan Meštrović – photographs of his first works of art taken at the beginning of the century in Vienna and Paris, as well as archive materials, primarily the family archive found in the house in 1952, containing letters from family members and friends, their personal documents, etc.
References: ŠEPAROVIĆ, Maja. Pregled djelovanja Galerije Ivana Meštrovića, Kulturna baština 34, Split, 2007. Galerija Ivana Meštrovića, katalog stalnog postava, Fundacija Ivana Meštrovića, Zagreb, 2005.
(purchased tickets are valid for Crikvine-Kaštilac as well)
Adult: 40 kn
Student/pupil/pensioner: 20 kn
Family (parents with children under 15): 60 kn
Adult group (<30): 35kn
Student/pupil group (<20): 15 kn
Preschool children/Art history and Academy of Arts students/ICOM /PRESS: Free admission
VISITORS WITH MOBILITY ISSUES
The museum shop, garden, porch and gallery space are available (with prior notice for the use of ramps).
Possibility of accessing the garden and toilet in the garden.
BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED VISITORS
For a more enjoyable visit, we suggest you are accompanied by an escort.
Entrance with guide dogs is allowed.
With prior notice, our colleagues informants will provide you with gloves for touching the sculptures and they will guide you through the exhibition.