Fedot Shubin


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Shubin, Fedot Ivanovich

 

Born May 17 (28), 1740, in the village of Tiuchkovskaia, in what is now Arkhangel’sk Oblast; died May 12 (24), 1805, in St. Petersburg. Russian sculptor; one of the greatest representatives of enlightened classicism in 18th-century Russian art.

Shubin, the son of a peasant from the White Sea coast, did bone carvings as a child. He arrived in St. Petersburg in 1759, and from 1761 to 1767 he studied at the Academy of Arts there under N. F. Gillet. He received a stipend to study at the Academy of Arts in Paris, where he was a pupil of J. B. Pigalle from 1767 to 1770; he also studied in Rome from 1770 to 1772.

The classical clarity and realistic precision of Shubin’s early works, for example, F. N. Golitsyn (marble, 1771, Tret’iakov Gallery), reveal the influence of ancient Greek art. In 1773, upon returning to St. Petersburg, Shubin created portraits, preferring to use marble because its soft texture enabled him to achieve many beautiful subtle effects. A master at sculpting the human face, he skillfully utilized the great variety of effects possible with circular carving motions, combining them to create an artistically successful likeness of the subject.

Shubin emphasized imposing dignity and grandeur in his portrait busts, notably A. M. Golitsyn (marble, 1775, Tret’iakov Gallery). Creating an impression of inner strength and vigor, he made an unprepossessing face seem inspired, for example, Z. G. Chernyshev (1774, Tret’iakov Gallery) and P. A. Rumiantsev-Zaduniskii (1778, Russian Museum, Leningrad), both in marble. He was remarkably successful in revealing the complex inner world of his subject in a marble portrait of an unidentified man (mid-1770’s, Tret’iakov Gallery).

In the years 1774–75, Shubin executed 58 medallions depicting Russian princes and tsars for the Chesmé Palace (marble, State Armory, Moscow), and in 1789–90 he created the statue Catherine II, the Legislator for the Tauride Palace (marble, Russian Museum). In the 1770’s and 1780’s he also did numerous monumental decorative works in marble, such as the statues and relief works for the Marble Palace (1775–82) and for the Troitskii Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Laura (1786–89).

Shubin reached an exceptional degree of precision and truthfulness of characterization in his portraits of the 1790’s, such as G. A. Potemkin-Tavricheskii (marble, 1791), E. M. Chuikov, M. V. Lomonosov (gypsum, 1792), and A. A. Bezborodko (marble, c. 1798), all of which are housed at the Russian Museum. His bust Paul I (marble, 1797 [?], Russian Museum) is a complex work of uncommon psychological depth.

Shubin spent the last years of his life in poverty, largely owing to the hostility of the ruling circles toward his art.

REFERENCES

Isakov, S. K. Fedot Shubin. Moscow, 1938.
Zhidkov, G. V. Obraz Shubina. Moscow, 1946.
Lazareva, O. P. Russkii skul’ptor Fedot Shubin. Moscow, 1965.