Clodt Pyotr

Biography

Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg, known in Russian as Pyotr Klodt  was a favourite sculptor of Nicholas I of Russia.

Klodt belonged to a distinguished family of Baltic Germans, the Clodt von Jürgensburgs. The family's origin remains unknown, but many speculate that it originated in Westphalia. Klodt started his career as a professional artillery officer and amateur sculptor. He attended classes at the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg, where his mastery in depicting horses eventually won him the rank of academician and the praise of the Emperor. As legend has it, Nicholas I remarked of Klodt that he "creates horses finer than any prize stallion does".

Klodt's most famous group of equestrian statues, the Horse Tamers, was installed at the Anichkov Bridge in 1851. He also produced the bronze statue of Ivan Krylov in the Summer Garden (1848–55). It was the first monument to a poet erected in the Russian Empire.

Klodt collaborated with Vasily Demut-Malinovsky on the statue of Saint Vladimir in Kiev (installed in 1853) and the statuary for the Narva Triumphal Gate. He also sculpted a quadriga above the portico of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Klodt's last significant work was a posthumous tribute to his patron, a horse statue for the equestrian Monument to Nicholas I on Saint Isaac's Square. Installed in 1856-1859, it was the first equestrian statue in the world with only two support-points (the horse rear feet). Even the Bolsheviks, who destroyed the memorials to Nicholas I across Russia, did not dare to demolish this unique statue.

Klodt died in his estate in the Grand Duchy of Finland (autonomous state of the Russian Empire) on 20 November 1867. His son and nephew Mikhail continued the artistic traditions of the family and became notable painter of the Itinerants school.