Cyprian Godebski

Born: 1835, Méry-sur-Cher (France)
Died: 1909, Paris

Polish sculptor, painter, teacher. Grandson of Polish poet Cyprian Godebski (1765–1809), son of Polish writer Franciszek Ksawery Godebski (1801–1869). Born in Méry-sur-Cher in central France (1835) and educated at the École polonaise at 15 Rue Lamandé in Batignolles (1840s). Studied sculpture under François Jouffroy in Paris (1850s). Worked in Lviv (1858–61), Vienna (1861–63) and Paris (1863–65). Married Zofia Servais, daughter of Belgian cellist Adrien-François Servais and Russian Jewess Sophie Féguine (1865). Settled in Hal in Belgium (1865), where he sculpted a statue of his late father-in-law and decorated his house and the town hall (late 1860s). Honorary fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts (1869). Worked in Russia (from 1870), where he taught at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg and sculpted busts of Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven for Count Rumyantsev in Moscow. While designing palace interiors at Tsarskoe Selo, his pregnant wife learnt that he was having an affair with her aunt and travelled from Hal to St Petersburg, where she went into labour and died giving birth to their daughter Maria Zofia Godebska (1872), later famous as the pianist and patroness Misia Sert. Married the sculptress Mathylda Rosen-Natanson and opened a salon with her in Warsaw (1875) and Paris (1888). Sculpted the tombstones of Théophile Gautier (1874) and Hector Berlioz (1884) at the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris and Polish painter Jan Matejko at Rakowicki Cemetery in Krakow (1898). Designed statues of Adam Mickiewicz in Warsaw (1898), Nicolaus Copernicus in Krakow (1899) and Franz Liszt in Weimar (1899). Awarded the Légion d’honneur (1889), elected first president of the Société artistique et littéraire polonaise in Paris (1897). Contributed to the Paris Salon and other exhibitions (from 1857).

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