Clodt Pyotr


Pyotr Clodt von Jürgensburg the favorite sculptor of Nicholas I of Russia. Clodt belonged to a distinguished family of Baltic Germans, the Clodt von Jürgensburgs. The family origin remains unknown, but many speculate that it originated in Westphalia. Clodt 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 tells, Nicholas I remarked of Clodt that he "creates horses finer than any prize stallion does".

His most renowned 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. Clodt 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 the quadriga above the portico of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

The last significant work by Clodt was a posthumous tribute to his patron, a horse statue for the equestrian Monument to Nicholas I on Saint Isaac 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.

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