Nearly a century after his death, Prince Paul Troubetzkoy remains one of the more renowned painters, sculptors and promoters of art in general in the modern era.
His pieces can be found in galleries and museums around the world. He created statues and portraits for prominent community members, including actual royalty as well as presidents and other world leaders.
Troubetzkoy was part of the Impressionist movement as it grew, and traveled in many artistic and literary communities around the world. Although he wasn’t necessarily someone who enjoyed putting his focus into art fundamentals and regular studies of the craft of art, he instead put direct great passion into all his sculptures and paintings, from animals to human portraits.
Troubetzkoy spent much of his professional life living in Italy, Russia and France, and also enjoyed several stays in the U.S.
Although he passed away in 1938, his art remains in demand. In fact, his final wishes included a request that his plaster casts be donated to the Museo del Paesaggio in Verbania, Italy, so his work will continue to be seen and admired.
Paul Troubetzkoy was born near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy in 1866. His father was also a Russian prince, Pyotr Petrovich, and his mother was Ada Winans, an American singer. The family residence on Lake Maggiore, called Villa Ada, hosted many artists and poets, so young Paul spent his childhood surrounded by notable figures in art and culture. Close family friends included painters Daniele Ranzoni and Tranquillo Cremona, composer Alfredo Catalani and sculptor Guiseppe Grandi.
Early on, Paul Troubetzkoy was interested in art. He wasn’t especially interested in studies but enjoyed meeting people and observing the world. He had an apprenticeship with Ernesto Bazzaro and Donato Barcaglia in Milan in 1884, but this only lasted a few months before he broke away and began to focus on his art his own way as a member of the Milan art community.
His first sculpture pieces were statuettes of animals, and his piece “A Horse” was selected to be displayed at the Brera Academy. During this time, he created a variety of statues for local monuments, and some of his works were placed in museums in Italy, the U.S. and Germany.
In 1898, as his artwork was becoming more recognized, he relocated to Russa, where he lived until 1906.
It was here that he made the acquaintance of writer Leo Tolstoy. They became fast friends and Troubetzkoy later said that Tolstoy influenced his life significantly, including causing him to change different world views, make different groups of friends and even stop eating meat.
His friendship with Tolstoy led to some positive highlights for his career. He created a bronze of Tolstoy riding his beloved horse Delire, which received the Grand Prix award for the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900. This significant honor also attracted more attention for Troubetzkoy and his abilities.
The Academy in Moscow appointed him as a professor of sculpture, a position where he was able to encourage his students to sculpt from nature. He was also declared the leader of the New Moscow School of Sculpture and chosen to create a monument for Tsar Alexander III.
During this time, he alternated between living and working in Moscow and Paris as well as visiting other art exhibitions in Europe and the U.S.
He eventually moved to the U.S. until 1921, a culture that he enjoyed due to the differences in culture and different artistic subjects.
His final exhibition was in 1931 in London, and then he returned to Verbania, Italy, and continued painting until his death in 1938.