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Paolo Troubetzkoy

Paolo Troubetzkoy

Son of a Russian officer, of a princely family, and of the American opera singer Ada Winans, from a very young age he came into contact with artists and intellectuals, in his father's house, Villa Ada, a destination for personalities such as Grandi, Ranzoni, Cremona. Sent to Russia by his father to pursue a military career, Paolo instead returns to Italy and goes to live in Milan, where he works in the studios of Francesco Barzaghi and Ernesto Bazzaro, starting to sculpt. In 1896 he went to Russia to stay there for a few years, periodically returning to Italy; in 1898 in Moscow the Tsar appointed him professor of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts and the following year the artist executed the equestrian monument of Alexander II in Petersburg. He made his debut exhibiting in 1900 in the Russian pavilion of the Universal Exposition in Paris; three of his sculptures are immediately purchased by the Luxembourg Museum. After some stays in Paris and the United States, in 1912 he built the Cà Bianca, in Suna, where he settled in 1932. In the meantime he continued to work and travel tirelessly: in 1913 he exhibited at the Secession in Rome; between 1925 and 1935 he frequently stays in Milan, where he paints a bronze and some drawings with the subject of his sister-in-law Amalia and his nephew Giulio. His reputation as a portraitist extends more and more, he paints the portraits of Tolstoy and Segantini, but he is also well known as an "animalist". However, he does not have much luck in the competitions for equestrian monuments banned in Italy. Refined and elegant sculptor of the great Lombard bourgeoisie and the European aristocracy, he models figurines of ladies, horses and agile greyhounds, all cast in bronze.

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Prince Paolo Petrovich Troubetzkoy (also known as Pavel or Paul; Russian: Павел Петрович Трубецкой, romanized: Pavel Petrovich Trubetskoy; Intra, Italy, 15 February 1866 — Pallanza, 12 February 1938) was an artist and a sculptor who was described by George Bernard Shaw as "the most astonishing sculptor of modern times". By birth, he was a member of the ancient House of Trubetskoy.


He was the son of Russian diplomat, Prince Peter Petrovich Troubetzkoy and his second wife, lyric singer Ada Winans (1831-1917). His paternal grandmother was Princess Emilie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn (1801-1869), which makes him great-grandson of famous Marshal Prince Peter zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg-Ludwigsburg. He worked in Russia, the United States, England and Italy. He was a self-taught artist, although he learned sculpture from Giuseppe Grandi. He is associated with impressionism, due to his ability to grasp sketchy movements in his bronze works. He was heavily influenced by the work of Auguste Rodin and Medardo Rosso. He depicted the society of the Belle Époque. Few of his bronzes are still available in the market. Quite famous is the 35 cm high portrait of Constance Stewart-Richardson called "The Dancer". His work was also part of the sculpture event in the art competition at the 1912 Summer Olympics.


The largest and best known of his works is the monumental equestrian statue of the Russian Tsar Alexander III in St. Petersburg, Russia. The monument was opened in 1909 on the Nevsky Prospekt near the Moskovsky Vokzal terminal. After the Russian revolution of 1917, the Soviet government removed the monument from the main street to the rear of the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1994, the monument to Alexander was placed in front of the Marble Palace near the embankment of the Neva river, at the former site of the armoured car that transported Lenin from Finland Station.


Troubetzkoy was a vegetarian. His vegetarian friend George Bernard Shaw remarked: “Troubetzkoy is a gigantic and terrifying humanitarian who can do anything with an animal except eat it”.


Alexandra Tolstoy, daughter of the great novelist Leo Tolstoy wrote in her father’s biography: "From time to time he posed – a tiring obligation – for painters and sculptors: for Repin, Pasternak who did a study of the family, Aronson, and Paolo Troubetzkoy. Troubetzkoy, a Russian educated in Italy, did some splendid little statues of Tolstoy – one of him on horseback. Father was very fond of him. A sweet and childlike person in addition to his great gifts, he read practically nothing, spoke little, all his life was wrapped up in sculpture. As a convinced vegetarian he would not eat meat but cried: "Je ne mange pas de cadavre!" if anyone offered him some. In his studio in St. Petersburg there was a whole zoo: a bear, a fox, a horse, and a vegetarian wolf.


Troubetzkoy once said “As I cannot kill I cannot authorize others to kill. Do you see? If you are buying from a butcher you are authorizing him to kill — kill helpless, dumb creatures, which neither I nor you could kill ourselves.”

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Paolo Troubetzkoy Artworks
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