The Sladmore Gallery Ltd
Troubetzkoy’s aristocratic lineage and international lifestyle ideally suited him to the role of society portraitist. His style is so relaxed and elegant that it appears facile, yet he consistently devised poses and settings that are convincingly modern and formally inventive. Through his multiple portrait statuettes, international exhibitions and globe-trotting travel, Troubetzkoy brought his art to the attention of a far wider audience than most of his Italian compatriots.
He was born at Intra on Lake Maggiore, the son of a Russian prince and an American singer. As an artist, he was essentially an autodidact, but he was much influenced by the Milanese Scapigliatura, particularly his friend the painter Daniele Ranzoni and the sculptors Giuseppe Grandi and Ernesto Bazzaro. Troubetzkoy’s travels exposed him to the ideas of Auguste Rodin and the Impressionists. During a lengthy stay in Russia, he was appointed chairman of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Moscow (1898-1905), and he executed major sculptures of his friend Tolstoy and Tsar Alexander III. He won the grand prize for sculpture in the Russian section of the 1900 Exposition in Paris, and eventually settled there in 1906. Such French personalities as Rodin, Anatole France, Count Robert de Montesquieu and George Clemenceau, and notable foreigners, including Giacomo Puccini and George Bernard Shaw, sat for Troubetzkoy. In many ways, he was the sculptural equivalent of the portrait painters Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent. The flamboyant sculptor, often seen strolling the boulevards with his hounds, was also an astute Animalier (animal portraitist). His American experience, including tours in 1912 and 1916-18 that took his work to The Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts and elsewhere, is reflected in a number of energetic impressions of the American West. In 1932, Troubetzkoy returned to his birthplace, where he remained until his death six years later.