Portrait of Bernard Shaw by Paolo Troubetzkoy in the museum Collection exposition
On the birthday of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) - an English playwright of Irish origin, writer, essayist, one of the reformers of the 20th century theatrical art, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, winner of the Oscar, let us recall his friendship with Paolo Troubetzkoy.
In 1907, fate brought Bernard Shaw and Paolo Troubetzkoy together, and this was a watershed meeting. For many years, the playwright and the sculptor had warm and friendly relationship.
Paolo Troubetzkoy had friendly relations with many representatives of art and culture of his time. In 1907, during his trip to England, many famous people posed for the master, and it was during this period that he met the outstanding playwright and novelist - George Bernard Shaw. Subsequently, Shaw became his close friend and even wrote an introductory article to one of the Troubetzkoy catalogues.
For the first time Bernard Shaw saw the works of Troubetzkoy back in the 1890s, while he visited the exhibition of his works "Portraits and Sketches in Oil". At the time, he was working as a critic for the “London World”. The very first sculptural image of Shaw by Troubetzkoy was created at the end of 1907. The meeting took place in the studio of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), an American expatriate artist. B. Show had been sitting for the portrait for three hours only - the bust of the playwright, created by Auguste Rodin, inspired Troubetzkoy.
Shaw sat for the sculptor three times: in 1907 for a portrait bust, in 1926 and in 1927, when he sat for the full-length statue.
This work was created in the studio of Troubetzkoy near Lake Maggiore in July 1926, when Shaw and Charlotte were vacationing at the neighboring Villa Stresa, marking the 70th anniversary of the writer. The studio of Troubetzkoy - Villa Cabianca in Verbania, Pallanza was not far away, and Shaw agreed for several sessions while he and his wife stayed there. The result of the sessions was a sculptural portrait of seated Bernard Shaw.
Shaw liked the portrait so much that he insisted on overpaying for it, noting that a check for 100,000 lire "probably does not even reward for such a splendid work, for which they will never pay as much as necessary".
Shaw and Troubetzkoy were very close. Bernard Shaw wrote a wonderful message to Paolo Troubetzkoy, who lost his wife. He calmed down the sculptor in the ingenious and very witty way.
Letter from Bernard Shaw sent to Troubetzkoy on June 24, 1927:
"My dear Troubetzkoy! Alas! Alas! Poor Elin!
What are you going to do now without your annoying child, without your tyrant, without your slave, without everything that you had - without all those strange things that our wives represent to us?
Who will protect you from all other women?
You are free, but what a terrible thing such freedom is! Congratulating a widower on getting freedom is like congratulating a child for being lost.
However, there is a limit to all adventures and the marriage adventure too. I do not think Elin would like to be an old woman. Perhaps she felt it, as she felt that you yourself would become a magnificent old man, and therefore decided to die first. We all die by our own choice, although the doctors pretend that they are killing us. At the same time, I would like her to reach her apotheosis by gracefully leaving - but not dying.
Maybe we will see each other soon; probably we will come to Stresa once more this year. Let us not make a lean face - let us be cheerful for the glory of her memory!
Do not answer me - so many letters will come to you that you will go crazy answering them. Throw them all in the fireplace.
J. Bernard Shaw
Shaw and Troubetzkoy have been friends for over thirty years. They had many things in common, including their love of animals and commitment to vegetarianism. Shaw described Troubetzkoy as “a humanist who can do everything with an animal except to eat it”. “He is a genius, it is not only safe to speak about him in superlative degree, but it is necessary. He is the most amazing sculptor of our time".