Paul Troubetzkoy

George Bernard Shaw


In Tate Britain

Paul Troubetzkoy 1866–1938
Object: 594 × 365 × 267 mm
Presented by Mrs George Bernard Shaw 1927

Display caption

Prince Paul Troubetzkoy was an Italian born painter and sculptor, the son of a member of the Russian nobility. He made many portrait busts of famous men, such as Tolstoy and Anatole France. Shaw (1856-1950), the famous playwright and Fabian socialist, was a devoted vegetarian like Troubetzkoy. They were friends and Shaw sat to Troubetzkoy three times. The first was for a portrait bust in 1908, executed in three hours in a studio in London. Then, in 1926, at Troubetzkoy's studio at Lago Maggiore in Italy, Shaw posed for a life-size statue, a statuette showing him seated, and this second portrait bust.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Paul Troubetzkoy 1866-1938

N04274 George Bernard Shaw 1926

Inscribed '1926 | Paul Troubetzkoy' l. side
Bronze, 23 3/8 x 14 3/8 x 10 1/2 (59.5 x 36.5 x 26.5)
Presented by Mrs Bernard Shaw 1927
Lit: Hesketh Pearson, Bernard Shaw: his Life and Personality (London 1943), pp.305-8

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), the playwright and Fabian Socialist, shared with Troubetzkoy a devotion to vegetarianism. In 1931 he wrote the foreword to the catalogue of Troubetzkoy's one-man show at Colnaghi's.

Troubetzkoy made his first bust of Shaw in 1908 in three hours' reckless work in Sargent's studio in London. Although Shaw rather liked it, he thought: 'It is not to be compared to the bust in the Tate Gallery, the life-size statue, and the statuette, all of which he made of me years later from unlimited sittings in his own studio at the Villa Cabianca on Lago Maggiore' (quoted in Pearson, loc. cit.). The early bust is in the foyer of the Theatre Guild in New York, and the statuette, which shows Shaw seated and is dated 1926, is in Shaw's house 'Shaw's Corner' at Ayot St Lawrence. A cast of the life-size statue, depicting Shaw full-length in his pose as an orator, belongs to the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. It is dated 1927.

John S. Grioni, who is preparing a catalogue of Troubetzkoy's work, says that he knows of no other bronze cast of this bust and that the plaster models of all Shaw's portraits are in the Museum of Pallanza, on Lago Maggiore.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.729, reproduced p.729


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