The society portrait was his especial preserve, with a particular emphasis on the seated figure. The pose was an awkward proposition in three-dimensions and in the relatively small dimensions of a statuette, but Troubetzkoy mastered it with aplomb and it became a trademark of his work. The present bronze is a fine example and can be compared to the well-known After the Ball, a portrait of Adelaide Aurnheimer, which the sitter won as a prize for the best costume at a ball in 1897. In these seated portraits the ease and informality of the pose allows the artist to capture the evanescent charm of a privileged age.
Instead of modelling in clay, Troubetzkoy prepared his figures using a non-drying compound of clay and wax called plastilene. It gave his finished works a great impression of immediacy. The present bronze is no exception. Troubetzkoy’s fluid modelling technique can be seen here in the swift and confident manipulation of the material, leaving clear thumb prints to be seen in the folds of drapery around the base.
Also included in the sale is a standing portrait of the artist’s cousin, Princess Gagarina with her Child, from the same collection. It belongs to a group within Troubetzkoy’s oeuvre of mothers and children, depicted with a tenderness and simplicity quite distinct from the poise and glamour of his society portraits.
J. Grioni, ‘Un ritrattista cosmopolita: precisazioni critiche e biografiche’ G. Piantoni et al., Paolo Troubetzkoy 1866-1938, exh. cat., Museo del Paesaggio, Verbania Pallanza, 1990, pp. 227-229; O. Wooton, Prince Paul Troubetzkoy: The Belle Epoque Captured in Bronze, exh. cat. Sladmore Gallery, London, 2008, pp. 6-15, no. 5
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