Lot 87
  • 87

Prince Paul Troubetzkoy

20,000 - 30,000 GBP
50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Prince Paul Troubetzkoy
  • Irene Castle
  • signed and dated: © / 1915 Paul Troubetzkoy
  • bronze, dark brown patina
  • 45.5cm., 17 7/8 in.


Irene Castle (1893-1969), New York
by descent to her daughter Barbara McLaughlin Kreutz (1925-2003), Rosemont, Pennsylvania
by descent to the present owners

Catalogue Note

When Mrs. Vernon Castle suddenly appeared she was greeted with the shock of recognition that people always reserve for those who - as Wordsworth once said - create the taste by which they are to be appreciated… It is no coincidence that Stravinsky's early music and Picasso's cubist period coincided with the success of a woman who was to be one of the most remarkable fashion figures the world has ever known. Mrs. Castle was as important an embodiment of the "modern" in the social and fashion sense as these artists were in the world of art.

Cecil Beaton, The Glass of Fashion

Irene Castle was one of the first international celebrities of the 20th century. The daughter of a respected New York physician, she married the English actor Vernon Castle in 1911. The two swiftly gained recognition as a talented dance duo, travelling to Paris where they performed to great acclaim at the Café de Paris, before returning to New York in 1912, where they starred on Broadway and taught dancing to the city’s social-set. It was during this period that Irene gained her reputation as a fashion icon, reputedly being the first woman to wear ‘the bob’ haircut and the loose, simple dresses, which would later be adopted by ‘the flappers’ and set a trend that would endure throughout the 1920’s. Her life with Vernon, who died as a fighter pilot in the First World War, was later dramatized by Irving Berlin in a film entitled, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (1939).

That Prince Paul Troubetzkoy would have been drawn to Irene Castle is no surprise. Troubetzkoy, the Italian-born son of a Russian aristocrat and an American Soprano, mixed with the most celebrated people of his day on both sides of the Atlantic. The present statuette of Irene Castle is one of a small number of portraits of talented young women, who achieved international prominence for their dancing abilities, and who were friends with Troubetzkoy. The closest comparables were modeled within a few years of each other: his Danseuse of circa 1911, representing the French dancer Thamara de Svirsky (1883-1972), and his Lady Constance Stewart Richardson of 1914, depicting the notable Scottish dancer and suffragette (1883-1932). In all three bronzes, the subject appears entirely lost in their thoughts, unaware of the viewer’s presence.

The present bronze is very rare. It is one of only two known sculptures of Irene Castle made by Troubetzkoy, the other being the bronze which was sold in these rooms on 5 December 2012, lot 169 for £67,250, in which the sitter's arms are raised. The present bronze is a particularly beautiful cast, with a very fine waxy surface, which is typical of Troubetzkoy's impressionist bronzes. It is enhanced by the sitter's fashionable 1920's hairstyle, which successfully evokes the glamour and optimism of the age. 

F. Vercelotti, Paolo Troubetzkoy scultore, Intra, 1988, pp. 128-9; G. Piantoni and E. Venturoli, Paolo Troubetzkoy 1866-1938, exhib. cat. Museo del Paesaggio, Turin, 1990, p. 211, no. 171