Fedot Shubin

Born: 1740, Tyuchkovskaya (Arkhangelsk Province)
Died: 1805, St Petersburg

Sculptor, draughtsman, painter, teacher. Born in the Pomor fishing village of Tyuchkovskaya on the Northern Dvina in the family of a state (free) peasant called Ivan Shubnoi, who allegedly taught Mikhail Lomonosov to read and write (1740). Carved walrus tusks (1740s–50s). Moved to St Petersburg after the death of his father (1759). Earned a living by carving snuff-boxes, fans and combs (1759–61) and worked as a palace stoker (1761). Admitted to the Imperial Academy of Arts with the help of Mikhail Lomonosov and changed his surname to Shubin (1761). Studied under Nicolas-François Gillet at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1761–66). Awarded a minor silver medal (1764), major silver medal (1765) and a major gold medal and foreign fellowship (1766). Studied under Jean-Baptiste Pigalle in Paris and attended life classes at the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture (1767–70). Moved to Rome (1770), where he attended the Académie de France and independently studied ancient, Renaissance and Baroque sculpture (1770–72). Sculpted busts of Count Ivan Shuvalov (1771) and Prince Fyodor Golitsyn (1771) and travelled with Nikita Demidov to Bologna (1772), Paris (1773) and London (1773), where he worked in the studio of Joseph Nollekens (1773). Honorary member of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna (1772). Returned to St Petersburg (1773) and married Vera Kokorinova (sister of architect Alexander Kokorinov). Academician (1774), professor (1794), councillor (1795), adjunct professor (1803). Sculpted portraits of Count Zakhar Chernyshov (1774), Catherine the Great (1774–75), Prince Alexander Golitsyn (1775), Count Pyotr Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky (1778), Count Alexei Orlov (1778), Count Pyotr Sheremetev (1783), Admiral Vasily Chichagov (1791), Prince Grigory Potemkin (1791), Mikhail Lomonosov (1792), Ivan Betskoi (1790s), Prince Platon Zubov (1796), Paul I (1797) and Alexander I (1801). Designed fifty-eight medallions depicting Russian rulers from Prince Rurik to Elizabeth Petrovna for the Çesme Palace (1774–75), forty-two statues and bas-reliefs for the Marble Palace (1775–85), twenty statues and six bas-reliefs for the Trinity Cathedral in the St Alexander Nevsky Monastery (1786–89), statue of Catherine II the Legislatress for the Tauride Palace (1789–90) and a statue of Pandora for the Grand Cascade at Peterhof (1802). Suffered from poverty and failing eyesight (1790s) and the loss of many works after his house and studio on Vasilyevsky Island burnt down (1801). Died in St Petersburg and buried at the Smolensk Cemetery (1805), reburied at the St Lazarus Cemetery in the St Alexander Nevsky Monastery (1931). Contributed to exhibitions at the Imperial Academy of Arts (from 1764) and retrospectives at the Russian Museum in Leningrad (1941, 1955) and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (1991).

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