SHUBIN, Fedot Ivanovich
(b. 1740, Techkovskaya, d. 1805, St. Petersburg)

Biography

Russian sculptor. He came from peasant stock and in his youth he produced bone carvings. In 1759 he went to St Petersburg, first serving as a stoker at the Tsar's court, and then (1761-67) studying at the Academy of Arts, where he worked under Nicolas-François Gillet. Between 1767 and 1773 he worked in Paris and Rome on a grant from the Academy of Arts, also visiting London. During these years he produced a portrait bust of the Empress Catherine II (marble, 1771; London, Victoria and Albert Museum); and on his return to St Petersburg in 1773 he continued with such work, creating a portrait gallery of contemporary men and women, usually from aristocratic circles. Examples include the portrait busts of Pyotr Aleksandrovich Rumyantsev-Zadunaysky (marble, 1778), Grigory Aleksandrovich Potyomkin, Count of Tauris (1791), Aleksandr Andreyevich Bezborodko (1799) and the Tsar Paul I (1800; marble or bronze, St Petersburg, Russian Museum).

While following an established formula and showing the sitters with the same self-confident smile, these works succeed in stressing individuality through attention to details of both dress and physiognomy. They are also remarkable for their technical perfection; and Shubin has frequently been compared to the French sculptor, Jean-Antoine Houdon.