1946, unveiled in 1979


Inv. no. J 6

Meštrović is known mainly as the author of monumental sculptures of large dimensions, and his incredible sculpting talent is expressed mainly in his lyrical and dramatic manifestations of the human body. His inclination towards monumentality is also visible in the depictions of numerous women’s figures, especially nudes, with typical accentuated lines, voluminosity and emphasised soft forms. One of such sculptures is also the depiction of the Greek goddess Persephone, which he created in 1946 in Rome.

In Greek mythology, Persephone, daughter of the god Zeus and the goddess Demeter, was kidnapped by the god of the underworld Hades and forced to become his wife. Since a return to the world of the living was no longer possible, Zeus made a compromise – Persephone would live in the underworld during autumn and winter, and she could return to the world of the living in spring and summer. The myth explains the cycle of seasons, of life and death, power and powerlessness in relation to supernatural forces.

Meštrović depicted Persephone in the moment when her whole body expresses her desire to be freed from the land of the dead. The tall woman’s figure with hear head leaning far backwards, her well-shaped body, her lifted, very long arms, reaches for salvation and expresses a primal call for freedom. The robust treatment of the sculpting material’s surface intensifies the expressive power of the sculpture; the glorious image of the yearning woman personifies the general human wish for freedom and life.

Text: Katarina Hergold Germ

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