The nobleman by birth, Paul Pavlovich Kamenskiy, the grandson of the Russian painter, medalist and sculptor, vice-president of the Imperial Academy of Arts Count F.P. Tolstoy, was born on April 16 (28), 1858 in St. Petersburg, in the family of the novelist, titular counsellor P.P. Kamenskiy and the writer M.F. Kamenskaya (born Tolstaya).
After graduating from the Military Gymnasium in 1874, Pavel Kamenskiy entered the Academy of Arts, from which he graduated in 1885. For the model of the figure "Ophelia", created at the Imperial Porcelain Factory the same year, Pavel Kamenskiy received the class rank of the II degree artist. This figure became one of the largest sculptures cast in porcelain. Many works of this period of the sculptor's life were exhibited at academic exhibitions: composition "Without nanny", "Cry-baby", "Cupid", bust of Asmolova and others.
The sculptor’s career was rather successful. After graduating from the Academy in 1886, Kamenskiy taught drawing at the Imperial Theater School. In September 1887, by order of the Ministry of the Imperial Court, he was appointed sculptor at the Directorate of the Imperial Theaters.
The art of theatrical costume requires great skill and profound knowledge: an artist needs to be well versed not only in the history of the costume itself, but also in the general history of art. Kamenskiy coped well with his duties. In April 1895, he, the titular counsellor and the sculptor of the St. Petersburg office of the Imperial Theaters, "in reward for diligent service" was awarded with the Order of St. Stanislaus of III degree. Moreover, in 1898 - with the Order of St. Anne of III degree.
By the end of 1898, Kamenskiy headed the scene workshop. Documentary evidence had been preserved that this post was established especially for Pavel Kamenskiy. Very soon, he was charged with the mission of preparing theatrical performances for coronation celebrations as well. In 1898, besides his regular responsibilities in the workshop, Kamenskiy also created sculptures. Among them re two figures of griffins and statues of composers M.I. Glinka and A.N. Serov, designed to decorate the renovated facade of the Mariinsky Theater. In 1897, P. Kamenskiy created a sculptural composition on the grave of P.I. Tchaikovsky in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
In 1907, the general manager of the porcelain factory, N.B. Wolf received an order from Emperor Nicholas II for the execution of a series of figurines “Nationalities of Russia”. Taking into consideration the forthcoming large-scale work, he offered P.P. Kamenskiy the position of the chief sculptor of this series. Pavel Kamenskiy actively soaked in this work.
Series "Nationalities of Russia" (1858-1922), created by P.P. Kamenskiy at the Imperial Porcelain Factory, turned out to be the epitome of the main wealth of Russia - the culture of the peoples inhabiting it - embodied in porcelain. It has no analogues in the world porcelain practice, since a unique method was developed for its creation. Each figure was modeled on the basis of the latest historical, ethnographic and anthropological data, with the help of scientific consultants from the leading historical and cultural institutions of the time: the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (now the Peter the Great Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences) and the Ethnographic Department of the Alexander III Museum (now the Russian ethnographic museum).
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