Paul Troubetzkoy often addressed the themes of sport and athleticism in his work. He created several nude figures of athletes including the 1896 bust of his elder brother Pierre Troubetzkoy (1864-1936). The present model dated 1904 is most likely another version of Pierre Troubetzkoy’s portrait. Paul and his brother spent their first years in Milan together studying and working. Pierre has successfully established himself as a portraitist there, and later moved to the US and opened his own studio.
The Milwaukee journal from 12 March 1898 describes Pierre Troubetzkoy in the following terms: ‘Prince Troubetzkoy is a tall, clean limbed athlete looking fellow [...] He practices each afternoon in his studio following the day’s work, upon a massive iron bar. […] which seems mere child’s play to Prince Troubetzkoy, who is reckoned the third strongest man in this century’.
For a comparable model, see Exhibition catalogue, Paolo Troubetzkoy 1866-1938, Museo del Paesaggio, Verbania, 29 April-29 July 1990, p. 112. For a similar version of this model listed as ‘Athlete (Health and Strength)’, see Exhibition catalogue, Catalogue of Sculpture by Prince Paul Troubetzkoy, Albright Art Gallery, New York, 1911, no. 80, illustrated.