Militant Vegetarian Paolo Troubetzkoy

“While passing one day in Intra [a town on Lago Maggiore] past a slaughterhouse, I saw a calf being killed. My soul was filled with such horror and indignation that from that time on I refused solidarity with the murderers: since then I have become a vegetarian.

I assure you that you can completely do without steaks and roasts, my conscience is much clearer now, since killing animals is a real barbarism. Who gave the right to this man? Mankind would stand much higher if it learned to respect animals. But they must be respected seriously, not in the same way as members of animal protection societies, sometimes protecting them on the streets and enjoying the taste of their meat in their canteens.

“But you are propagandizing, prince!”

— I would do it willingly. I have long wanted to read a lecture on this topic. There are so many good things to say. And it would be so nice to win! At the present time I am not busy with any work, but for some time now I have been full of the thought of a monument to humanity renewed by the great ideal – respect for nature.

— A symbolic monument?

– Yes. This one would be the 2nd of all my many works, since I don’t like symbols, but sometimes they are unavoidable. And the second mi fu inspirato dal vegetarianismo (inspired to me by vegetarianism): I called it “Les mangeurs de cadavres” (Corpse eaters). On one side, a coarse, vulgar man is depicted devouring carrion that has passed through the kitchen, and a little lower, a hyena digging up a corpse to satisfy its hunger. One does this for bestial satisfaction – and is called a man; the second does it to maintain its life, does not kill, but uses carrion and is called a hyena.

I also made an inscription, but this, you know, is for those who are looking for “similarity”.

This conversation took place in Nervi near Genoa and was published in 1909 in Corriere de la sera (Milan). It contains a story about a “tipping point”, about an inner “rebirth” in Trubetskoy’s life. We also know that a similar incident took place in 1899 from the memoirs of Trubetskoy’s brother, Luigi, who report the same event in a more detailed form, so that the shock experienced by Trubetskoy will become even clearer: after all, he happened to be a witness to total exploitation animal – as working and slaughter cattle.

Prince Peter (Paolo) Petrovich Trubetskoy, descended from a well-known Russian noble family, had spent almost his entire life in the West and therefore had only a poor knowledge of the Russian language – he spoke Russian with a strong accent. He was born in Intra in 1866 and died in 1938 in the town of Suna, also above Lago Maggiore. According to the Italian art critic Rossana Bossaglia, he was a captivating personality – coming from the Russian nobility, seamlessly immersing himself in the Italian culture of the Lago maggiore region and consistently applying his moral ideas and vegetarian lifestyle. On the threshold of the XNUMXth century, he was invited as a professor at the Moscow Art Academy – “a completely new figure in Russian art. Absolutely everything was new with him: starting with his appearance and belonging to the famous family of princes Trubetskoy. “Tall”, “beautiful appearance”, with good manners and “savoir faire”, and at the same time an emancipated and modest artist, free from secular decorum, with a European education, who allowed himself to have original hobbies (such as: keep in his studio of beasts and animals and to be a vegetarian <…>“. Despite his Moscow professorship, Trubetskoy worked mainly in Paris: he was influenced by Rodin, and he painted pictures of impressionistic liveliness, primarily in bronze – portraits, figurines, genre compositions and pictures of animals.

His sculpture “Carrion Eaters” (Divoratori di cadaveri), created in 1900, subsequently donated by him to the Lombard Society for the Protection of Animals, was the only one he ever gave a name to. She shows a table with a bowl of piglet on it; a man is sitting at the table, devouring meatballs. At the bottom is written: “Against the laws of nature” (contro natura); nearby, a hyena is modeled, which rushed at a dead human body. Below the inscription: According to the laws of nature (secondo natura) (ill. yy). According to V. F. Bulgakov, the last secretary of Tolstoy, in a book with memoirs and stories about Tolstoy, in 1921 or 1922, the Moscow Museum of Tolstoy, through the mediation of P. I. Biryukov, received as a gift two small tinted plaster figurines expressing the idea of ​​vegetarianism: one one of the figurines depicted a hyena devouring a dead chamois, and the other an incredibly obese man greedily destroying a roasted pig lying on a platter – obviously, these were preliminary sketches for two large sculptures. The latter were exhibited at the Milan Autumn Salon of 1904, as can be read in an article from the Corriere della Sera of 29 October. This double sculpture, also known as Divoratori di cadaveri, “is intended to directly promote his vegetarian beliefs, which the author has repeatedly mentioned: hence the obvious tendency to the grotesque that permeates the figuration and is unique in Trubetskoy’s work.”

Trubetskoy “was brought up in his mother’s religion, Protestantism,” wrote his friend Luigi Lupano in 1954. “Religion, however, was never a problem for him, although we talked about it when we met at Cabianca; but he was a man of deep kindness and passionately believed in life; his respect for life led him to a vegetarian way of life, which was not flat pietism in him, but confirmation of his enthusiasm for every living being. Many sculptures were supposed to directly moralize and convince the public of a vegetarian diet. He reminded me that his friends Leo Tolstoy and Bernard Shaw were vegetarians, and he was flattered that he managed to persuade the great Henry Ford to vegetarianism. Troubetzkoy portrayed Shaw in 1927 and Tolstoy several times between 1898 and 1910.

It is likely that Trubetskoy’s first visits to the Moscow Tolstoy House in the spring and autumn of 1898, during which he saw vegetarianism in praxi, set the stage for that decisive moment in Trubetskoy’s life, which he experienced in the city of Intra in 1899. From April 15 to April 23, 1898, he models a bust of the writer: “In the evening, Prince Trubetskoy, a sculptor who lives, was born and raised in Italy, visited us. An amazing person: unusually talented, but completely primitive. He didn’t read anything, he doesn’t even know War and Peace, he didn’t study anywhere, naive, rude and completely absorbed in his art. Tomorrow Lev Nikolaevich will come to sculpt and will dine with us. On December 9/10, Trubetskoy visits the Tolstoys another time, together with Repin. On May 5, 1899, in a letter to Chertkov, Tolstoy refers to Trubetskoy, justifying the delay in completing the novel Resurrection caused by new changes in the manuscript: faces are eyes, so for me the main thing is spiritual life, expressed in scenes. And these scenes could not be reworked.

A little more than a decade later, in early March 1909, Trubetskoy created two more sculptures of the writer – Tolstoy on horseback and a small statuette. From 29 to 31 August Trubetskoy models a bust of Tolstoy. For the last time he stays with his wife in Yasnaya Polyana from May 29 to June 12, 1910; he paints a portrait of Tolstoy in oils, creates two sketches in pencil and is engaged in the sculpture “Tolstoy on horseback”. On June 20, the writer again expresses the opinion that Trubetskoy is very talented.

According to V. F. Bulgakov, who spoke with Trubetskoy at that time, the latter was then a “vegan”, and denied dairy products: “Why do we need milk? Are we small enough to drink milk? It’s only the little ones who drink milk.”

When the first Vegetarian Vestnik began to be published in 1904, Trubetskoy became the co-publisher of the magazine from the February issue, which he remained until the last issue (No. 5, May 1905).

Trubetskoy’s special love for animals was known in the West. Friedrich Jankowski, in his philosophy of vegetarianism (Philosophie des Vegetarismus, Berlin, 1912) in the chapter “The Essence of the Artist and Nutrition” (Das Wesen des Kunstlers und der Ernahrung) reports that Trubetskoy is naturalistic in his art and generally a secular person, but lives strictly vegetarian and oblivious to the Parisians, makes noise in the streets and in restaurants with his tamed wolves. “The successes of Trubetskoy and the glory he achieved,” wrote P. in 1988. Castagnoli, “form a unity with the fame that the artist received with his adamant decision in favor of vegetarianism and with the love with which he took animals under his protection. Dogs, deer, horses, wolves, elephants figure among the artist’s favorite subjects” (ill. 8 yy).

Trubetskoy had no literary ambitions. But his desire to advocate a vegetarian lifestyle was so great that he also expressed it in a three-act play in Italian called “Doctor from another planet” (“Il dottore di un altro planeta”). One copy of this text, which Trubetskoy handed over to his brother Luigi in 1937, appeared in print for the first time in 1988. In the first act, the girl, who has not yet lost respect for her brotherly creatures, whose susceptibility has not yet been spoiled by conventions, condemns hunting. In the second act, an elderly former convict tells his story (“Ecco la mia storia”). Fifty years ago, he lived with his wife and three children: “We had many animals that we looked upon as family members. We ate the products of the earth because we considered it a low and cruel crime to contribute to the mass murder of brothers so vilely murdered, to bury their corpses in our stomachs and to satisfy the so perverted and vile gluttony of the majority of mankind. We had enough of the fruits of the earth and we were happy.” And then one day the narrator becomes a witness of how some cab driver brutally beats his horse on a steep swampy road; he besieges it, the driver beats even more fiercely, slips and mortally strikes on a stone. The narrator wants to help him, and the police unfairly accuse him of murder. As you can see, what happened in the town of Intra is still palpable in this scene.

Trubetskoy was a little over thirty years old when he took part in the competition for the monument to Alexander III. The competition program provided that the king is depicted sitting on the throne. Trubetskoy did not like this, and, along with a sketch corresponding to the announcement of the competition, he provided another sketch showing the king sitting on a horse. This second layout delighted the tsar’s widow, and thus Trubetskoy received an order for 150 rubles. However, the ruling circles were not satisfied with the finished work: the date of the opening of the monument (May 000) to the artist was announced so late that he could not get to the celebration in time.

The description of these events was left to us by N. B. Nordman in her book Intimate Pages. One of the chapters, dated June 17, 1909, is called: “Letter to a friend. Day about Trubetskoy. This, writes K. I. Chukovsky, is “charming pages”. Nordman describes how he and Repin arrive in St. Petersburg and head to the hotel where Trubetskoy is staying, and how they cannot find him at first. At the same time, Nordman met the actress Lidia Borisovna Yavorskaya-Baryatinsky (1871-1921), the founder of the New Drama Theater; Lidia Borisovna takes pity on Trubetskoy. He’s sunk! And so alone. “Everything, everyone is strongly against him.” Together with Trubetskoy, they all “fly by tram” to inspect the monument: “A spontaneous, powerful creation, wrapped in the freshness of brilliant work !!” After visiting the monument, breakfast at the hotel. Trubetskoy remains himself here too. He immediately, in his incorrect Russian, in his usual manner, launches vegetarianism:

“— Butler, eh! Butler!?

Dvoretsky bows respectfully before Trubetskoy.

“Did the dead man cook here?” In this soup? O! The nose hears… a corpse!

We all look at each other. Oh those preachers! They, like statues in Egypt at feasts, speak and remind of what one does not want to think about in the ordinary forms of our life. And why is it about the corpses at the meal? Everyone is confused. They don’t know what to choose from the map.

And Lidia Borisovna, with the tact of the female soul, immediately takes the side of Trubetskoy.

“You have infected me with your theories, and I will go vegetarian with you!”

And they order together. And Trubetskoy laughs with a childlike smile. He’s in the spirit.

O! I am never invited to dinner again in Paris. I’m tired of everyone with my sermon!! Now I decided to tell everyone about vegetarianism. The driver is taking me, and now I am to him: Est – ce que vous mangez des cadavres? well, it’s gone, it’s gone. <...> Recently, I went to buy furniture – and suddenly I started preaching and forgot why I came, and the owner forgot. We talked about vegetarianism, went to his garden, ate fruit. Now we are great friends, he is my follower … And I also sculpted a bust of a rich cattle merchant from America. The first session was silent. And on the second I ask – tell me, are you happy?

Me, yes!

– Do you have a good conscience?

– I have? Yes, but what, Well, it began! … “

Later, Repin arranges a banquet for his friend Trubetskoy at the Kontan restaurant. About two hundred invitations were sent out, but “in all of St. Petersburg there were only 20 people who wished to honor the world-famous artist.” For a long time they hushed up about him, “until finally Diaghilev brought his things and introduced the Russians to him!” Repin in an empty hall makes a lively speech, and he also hints at Trubetskoy’s lack of education, purposely and deliberately cultivated. Trubetskoy created the best monument to Dante in Italy. “They asked him – you probably know every line of Heaven and Hell by heart? … I have never read Dante in my life!” How does he teach his students, Repin asks rhetorically, “because he doesn’t speak Russian well. – Yes, he teaches only one thing – when you, he says, sculpt – you must understand where it is soft and where it is hard. — That’s it! Where soft and where hard! What depth in this remark!!! those. soft – muscle, hard – bone. Whoever understands this has a sense of form, but for a sculptor this is everything.” At the 1900 exhibition in Paris, the jury unanimously awarded Trubetskoy the grand prix for his work. He is an era in sculpture…

Трубецкой, на французском я XNUMX, благодарит репина за Выступление – и При этом сразу же Пускает Вод But all the same I will say that I love, I adore life! Out of love for this life I would like it to be respected. Out of respect for life, animals should not be killed as we do now. We only kill, damn it! But I say everywhere and to everyone I meet… Don’t kill. Respect life! And if you only eat corpses — you are punished with diseases that [sic! — П.Б.] give you these corpses. This is the only punishment the poor animals can give you.” Все слушают насупившись. Кто любит проповеди? Мясные блюда становятся противны. “Oh! I love nature, I love it more than anything else < …> And here is my finished monument! I am happy with my work. It says just what I wanted – vigor and life! »

Repin’s exclamation “Bravo, bravo Trubetskoy!” was quoted by the newspapers. The genius of Trubetskoy’s monument made a deep impression on VV Rozanov as well; this monument made him an “enthusiast of Trubetskoy”. S. P. Diaghilev in 1901 or 1902, in the editorial office of the journal Mir Iskusstva, showed Rozanov the design of the monument. Subsequently, Rozanov devoted an enthusiastic article to “Paolo Trubezkoi and his monument to Alexander III”: “here, in this monument, all of us, all of our Rus’ from 1881 to 1894.” This artist Rozanov found “a terribly talented person”, a genius, an original and an ignoramus. Of course, Rozanov’s article does not mention Trubetskoy’s love for nature and his vegetarian lifestyle.

The monument itself suffered a sad fate. Not only did the ruling circles from the entourage of Nicholas II dislike him, but the Soviet authorities also hid him in 1937, during Stalinism, in some kind of backyard. Trubetskoy, famous for his animal sculptures, denied that the work was intended as a political declaration: “I just wanted to depict one animal on another.”

Tolstoy willingly allowed Trubetskoy to portray himself. He said about him: “What an eccentric, what a gift.” Trubetskoy not only admitted to him that he had not read War and Peace – he even forgot to take with him the editions of Tolstoy’s works, which he had been presented with at Yasnaya Polyana. His group “symbolic” plasticity was known to Tolstoy. On June 20, 1910, Makovitsky makes a note: “L. N. started talking about Trubetskoy: – This Trubetskoy, a sculptor, a terrible supporter of vegetarianism, made a figurine of a hyena and a man and signed: “The hyena eats corpses, and the man himself kills …”.

N.B. Nordman bequeathed to future generations Trubetskoy’s warning about the transfer of animal diseases to humans. The words: “vous etes punis par les maladies qui [sic!] vous donnent ces cadavres” is not the only warning from pre-war Russia supposedly foreshadowing mad cow disease.

p,s, In the photo Paolo Trubetskoy and L.N. Tolstoy on horseback.

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