Ivan Meštrovic

Sir Thomas Beecham, Bt.

1915

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 492 x 165 x 213 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Lady Cunard 1921
Reference
N03601

Display caption

Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) was an orchestral conductor and operatic impresario. This bust was commissioned by the society hostess and patron Lady Cunard, who also commissioned one of herself. Mestrovic was a Croatian artist whose expressive sculptures, inspired by Auguste Rodin, gained an international reputation. This work was made in London during the First World War, after Mestrovic’s opposition to the Austro-Hungarian authorities forced him to flee his homeland. He later became an American citizen.

Ivan Mestrovic was born in Vrpolje, Croatia in 1883. He died in South Bend, Indiana in 1962.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Ivan Meštrović 1883-1962

N03601 Sir Thomas Beecham, Bt. 1915

Inscribed 'MEŠTROVIĆ | MCMXV' on base, r.
Bronze, 19 3/8 x 6 1/2 x 8 3/8 (49.2 x 16.5 x 21.2)
Presented by Lady Cunard 1921
Prov: Lady Cunard, London (purchased from the artist)
Exh: International Society, Grosvenor Gallery, London, October-November 1915 (218 A); Jugoslav Sculpture and Painting, Tate Gallery, April-May 1930 (21); Jugoslav Paintings and Sculpture, Manchester City Art Gallery, May-June 1931 (49); Yugoslavia, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, January-February 1943 (64); Glasgow School of Art, February-March 1943 (no catalogue traced); Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, April 1943 (376); Kendal Milne and Co., Manchester, May 1943 (no catalogue traced); Castle Museum, Norwich, June-July 1943 (376); Mortimer Museum Galleries, Hull, July-August 1943 (376); Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield, August-September 1943 (no catalogue traced); Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, October-December 1943 (56); Yugoslav Exhibition, RA, London, January-February 1944 (47); Music in Painting, Royal Festival Hall, London, May-June 1955 (no catalogue); RSA, Edinburgh, April-September 1962 (47)
Lit: Sir John Lavery, M. Ćurčin and others, Ivan Meštrović: A Monograph (London 1919), No.217, p.65
Repr: Dusko Kečkemet, Ivan Meštrović (New York, London, Toronto, Sydney 1970), between pp.123 and 124

Sir Thomas Beecham, Bt. (1879-1961), the famous orchestral conductor and operatic impresario.

According to the artist, this bust was executed in London and was commissioned and paid for by the donor, Lady Cunard, the society hostess and patron of the arts, who also commissioned a bust of herself. Lady Cunard first met Beecham in 1911, the year in which he was instrumental in bringing Diaghilev's Russian Ballet to England, and in the following years became an intimate friend and a vigorous supporter of his efforts to establish English opera.

Vesna Barbić, the Curator of the Atelier Meštrović at Zagreb, writes that the bronze was cast at the Cantoni Foundry in London, and that there are undated letters from Lady Cunard and Beecham in Meštrović's files in which they expressed their warm enthusiasm for this work. Beecham told the sculptor (in French): 'It is quite impossible for me to express in a letter all my admiration for this magnificent masterpiece and my appreciation for your great genius'. As far as is known, this is the only bronze cast; the plaster seems to have been lost or destroyed.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.511, reproduced p.511

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