Ivan Meštrović was born in Vrpolje, in Croatia, the son of a mason and farmer. After serving an apprenticeship to a stone-cutter in Split, he studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. In 1902 he joined the Secession Group and in 1904 he visited Rodin, by whom he was much influenced, in Paris. By the time of the First World War, he had emerged as a major European sculptor - his work at the 1911 Rome Exposition caused a sensation and the Victoria and Albert Museum held an exhibition of his work in 1915. Between the wars he lived in Zagreb and Split, but he moved to the United States in 1947, becoming an American citizen in 1954.