One of the sculptures created by Ivan Meštrović, the Croatian master sculptor, was sold yesterday at an auction in Paris held by the Christie’s auction house, for more than six times over the expected price!
The auction house’s website shows that. You can see that their estimate of the price is in the range between 30 and 50 thousand euros, while the final price for which it sold stood at a whopping 331,600 euros!
Ivan Meštrović is probably the most famous Croatian sculptor and one of the most famous artists of the 20th century, with his sculptures displayed all over the world, from Zagreb to Chicago.
The Abandoned Woman (Abandonne in French, Napuštena in Croatian) is a remarkable sculpture, made in white marble. Milena Zajović writes for Večernji list about its history: it used to belong to the Italian royal family. Montenegrin princess Elena married into the Italian royal family in 1896 and became the queen in 1900 when her husband Victor Emmanuel III became the king. Queen Elena used to be a friend of Meštrović’s, and she probably bought the sculpture from him directly – Christie’s says that it was made in 1907, in the early days of Meštrović’s career.
The master-piece “The Abandoned Woman” has been shown in public only twice, both times in Vienna, for joint secession exhibitions in 1908 and 1910. The Italian royal probably bought the 58-centimeter high sculpture right after that, and it has belonged to the family since. No one has seen it for decades, and it was considered to have been lost until it appeared at the Christie’s auction. The auction house discreetly says that it got to the current owner (before the sale) “by descent.”
It has not been made public who the buyer is, as can be expected in such situations. One can only hope that someone in the Croatian governing bodies has decided that this masterpiece needs to come back to Croatia and that Croatia participated in the auction.