Russian sculptor Prince Paolo Troubetzkoy was born in Italy on February 15, 1866. The illegitimate son of a Russian emigre, Prince Peter Petrovich Trubetskoy (1822-1892). Prince, who had two wives at once – one in Russia and the other abroad. Emperor Alexander II forbade him to return home, as has been said, “not to allow a spirit of debauchery to fatherland”. Paolo’s mother – a U.S. citizen, the pianist Ada Winans (1835-1917), who came to Florence to study singing. Receiving no system education, no common or artistic, still a boy, Paolo Troubetzkoy became independently engaged in Sculpture and painting. During this initial period of his life he created portrait busts, of small plastic, participated in competitions for the creation of large sculptures. The first exhibition of Paolo Troubetzkoy was held in the U.S. in 1886. In 1899, Russian sculptor Prince Paolo Troubetzkoy came to Russia.
Paolo’s cousins. Peter N. Troubetzkoy (1858-1911) for many years held senior elected office. During the first Russian revolution was one of the founders of the ‘Russian people’ – then almost the only organization in the Russian Black Hundreds, and – Sergei Troubetzkoy (1862-1905) – the rector of Moscow University, supported his Italian cousin, during his stay in Russia, and at first showed him patronage, which soon became unnecessary.
In St. Petersburg, Paolo Troubetzkoy participated in exhibitions of artistic association “World of Art“. Soon after his arrival in Russia Troubetzkoy takes part in the competition to build the monument to Alexander III, where all of a sudden gets first prize. Many members of the imperial family were against the monument, called it ‘caricature’. Sculptor himself joked: “My goal – to represent one animal to another”. Only thanks to the unexpected pleasure of the Empress, pricked portrait likeness, work was allowed to finish.
In 1906, the sculptor leaves Russia. Casting in bronze monument lasted more than two years. Opening of the monument took place May 23, 1909. At the opening of the monument the sculptor was not even invited.
In 1914, sculptor goes to the United States. Troubetzkoy was going to spend a few months in America, but because of the war he remained until 1921. Artist arranged solo exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco. In the U.S., Troubetzkoy lived in Hollywood, where he built a studio builds and bought a small house.
In 1919, on the project of Troubetzkoy was established a monument to Dante in San Francisco, and in 1920 – a monument to General Harrison Gray Otis in Los Angeles. From 1921 to 1932 the artist lives in Paris. Here in 1927, his Swede wife Elin Sundstrom died. In 1932 Troubetzkoy returned to Italy. February 12, 1938, Troubetzkoy died at the Villa Kabianka.
His works are in the Russian Museum (bronze figure of Witte), the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (the bust of Leo Tolstoy) , the Roman Academy of Arts (Italy) (“Indian on horseback”), in the Venice Academy (“cabby” and “portrait of a Woman”), at the Berlin National gallery, in the Dresden Gallery, and in other places.
Troubetzkoy was a vegetarian. His vegetarian friend 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 Trubetskoy. Trubetskoy, 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.”
Paolo Troubetzkoy: “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 – to kill helpless creatures which neither you nor I could kill ourselves”.
Large friendship bound Russian sculptor Prince Paolo Troubetzkoy with Leo Tolstoy. Tall, large, extraordinary people with physical force, tenderly loving animals. According to the Secretary of Leo Tolstoy – V. Bulgakov, “sculptor Paolo Troubetzkoy … belonged to the favorites of Leo Tolstoy … He loved his simple open soul, truthfulness, hatred of secular conventions, love for animals, vegetarianism”. Leo willingly posed to him and talked with him in the studio of the sculptor and at Yasnaya Polyana.
From 15 to 23 April 1898, he sculpts the bust of the writer: “In the evening we had Prince Troubetzkoy, a sculptor who lives, born and raised in Italy. Amazing people: prodigiously talented, but quite primitive. Read nothing, naive, rude and entirely absorbed in his art. Tomorrow will sculpt Leo Tolstoy and will dine with us”. A little more than a decade, beginning in March 1909, Troubetzkoy has created two sculptures of writer Tolstoy. From 29 to 31 August Troubetzkoy models bust of Tolstoy.