The Job Theme

The Old Testament theme of the fate of Job, symbol of a righteous man, of suffering and constancy and patience in adversity, is one of the most personal and most frequent in Meštrović’s oeuvre. He chose it in those periods of his life in which he too had had to endure certain trials and tribulations. The expression of physical and spiritual pain is particularly emphasised in the paradigmatic production of the sculpture Job of 1946, created in Rome after his own immediate experience of incarceration and the sufferings of civilisation itself in the maelstrom of World War II. The sculpture was preceded by drawings that he made during his imprisonment in the Ustasha jail in Zagreb in November 1941.

Job

Rome, 1946
bronze, 121 x 106 x 85 cm
owned by the Meštrović Gallery in Split, inv. no. GMS-119

The expression of physical and spiritual pain is shown on the paradigmatic work of sculpture Job of 1946, made in Rome after the immediate experience of his own incarceration and the sufferings of civilisation endured in the maelstrom of World War II. The sculpture was preceded by drawings Meštrović had done during his imprisonment in the Ustasha jail in Zagreb in 1941. The model for the work was a beggar from the streets of Rome, but in reality this is a symbolic self-portrait. In the total contortedness of the crouching figure, in the agitation of its drained musculature and agitated epidermis, the sculptor placed the absolute emphasis on the cries of Job, and of humanity, addressed to the skies.
(B. V.)

Study for Job’s Son

Zagreb, 1935
bronze, 65 x 69 x 61 cm
owned by the Meštrović Atelier in Zagreb, inv. no. AMZ-219

In parallel with the theme of Job, Meštrović developed the topic of Job’s son, which is not conventional in the iconography of the liturgy and symbolism of Judaeo-Christianity, and the artist probably transferred to it the idea of pain and suffering. The compositional handling of the bent, contorted figures, the vibrant treatment of the epidermis of the sculpture Study for Job’s Son show a reflection of the impressionist lessons of Rodin, which Meštrović internalised in his student days in Vienna.
(B. V.)