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Photograph by Miss Ida Kar
JACOB EPSTEIN SCULPTURE & DRAWINGS
Essay by Angus Stewart
GOLDMARK GALLERY SEPTEMBER 2009
1. Second Portrait of Kathleen, bronze, 1922, h 39 cm, £22,500 Kathleen was Epstein’s second wife.
Jacob Epstein was Britain’s sculptor. An irony as he was born in New York (1880), one of eight surviving children of an Orthodox Jewish couple, immigrants from Poland. A sickly child, as he grew he studied art, while mixing with anarchists, socialists, and the literati. He read deeply and widely, laying the foundations of a humanism that was to permeate his life’s work. In his own writings he describes his experiences in the city and the countryside, evidence of his greedy visual appetite. He devoured what he saw, to discover and to learn. By his late teens he had shed his faith; in his early twenties, via cutting ice-drifts, he was studying sculpture and working in a bronze foundry. Extending his multi-cultural heritage he moved to Paris in 1902, associating with Rodin, Brancusi and Modigliani. There he immersed himself in museums and clay. Epstein had had a taste of London in 1904, returning three years later to marry Margaret Dunlop (1873-1947). As a resident, in 1910, he was naturalised British. He had arrived in London with a recommendation from Rodin to George Bernard Shaw and rapidly found himself at once famous and infamous. Much of his early work disturbed and horrified the complacent public, for his carvings of the human form were blatantly sensuous. His work from the start incorporated the statuesque quality seen in Cycladic art, the energy of Michelangelo, and that maestro’s innate understanding of classical order and proportion. The sensuality in his work was as suggestive as that of Donatello and less subtle. The probability is that Epstein wanted to horrify and offend. What enraged those entrenched in the status quo was Epstein’s rape of all they upheld. He claimed his right to freedom of expression, for he took to heart the excellence that was around him, stripped it of its queasy decorum, larded it with blatant savagery, and defied the mealy-mouthed.
Etching of Jacob Epstein by Augustus John c1906, pub. 1909
Those who sought to rebuke or censor Epstein did not comprehend the turbulent genius that exhilarated his hand. For him, opposition was manna from heaven. He thrived and expanded, taking from friend and foe whatever would enrich his own purpose. Just as the twenty-year-old Van Dyke had painted in Rubens’ studio to ‘up his game’, so Epstein absorbed the rough and tumble of the art and artists surrounding him, emerging as an individual, disciplined yet untrammelled, natural and spontaneous. Augustus John, Wyndham Lewis, Eric Gill and Gaudier-Brzeska were Epstein’s allies. He was fortunate that this was a time of rebellion, and upheaval was in the air, for although his income was small his ambition was huge, and he applied himself to hard work and an operatic way of life. His first marriage was childless, but his wife accepted two of his children (by separate women) and they grew up with Margaret as their mother. However Epstein’s affair with Kathleen Garman, which produced three children, was not to Margaret’s taste. The wife shot and wounded the mistress. Later Kathleen’s thirty-yearold son Theo Garman died as he was being taken to an asylum. Subsequently his sister, Esther, killed herself. The tragedy on tragedy must have seared Epstein, as it did the mother. The following year, six years after Margaret’s death, Epstein married Kathleen. Their daughter, Kitty Garman, who first married Lucian Freud, survives Epstein and Kathleen. Ann and Annabel, Kitty and Freud’s daughters can be seen in bronze. These infants are disconsolate, quite without the self-confidence and aplomb, obvious in the busts of Peggy Jean, Epstein’s first born. As was his custom Epstein brought the interior being and history of these subjects to the fore. Epstein was besotted by children, his own and others. He took pleasure in working with them, content if they dozed as he built up the plaster, to draw them as they slept. The heads of Peggy Jean, Portland Mason and Tabitha, Master and Victor are all evidence of his sympathy and dexterity. Unseen and unheard, but undeniably hidden within these works, is an engine that generates the aura that surrounds them. To borrow from Coleridge, Epstein was an ‘agent of all human perception’.
2. Pola Givenchy (bust), bronze, 1937, h 54.5 cm, ÂŁ25,000
3. Bust of a Woman, bronze, date unknown, h 47 cm, ÂŁ12,500
Portraits came easily from his hands – Einstein, Churchill, Vaughan Williams and Somerset Maugham, Conrad and George Bernard Shaw, the latter asking: ‘Do I really look like that?’. Remarkably, he did. For Epstein’s eyes caught more than any stationary camera. It seems that Epstein could look and circle his subject as the moon rotates around the earth. We see the relationship of planes slip in and out of order, for as the eye lifts and lowers, what appears simple proves to be complex. This requirement, one combining study and reflection, applies equally to small and to large works. So, Epstein makes demands on the viewer. But in return he rewards those who linger around his work with honest reportage and the disclosure of secrets. Epstein consistently indulged in experiment. He was fascinated by ratio, mass, symmetry, disjunction and harmony. Exaggeration and distortion were as innate to his understanding as any verifiable reality. When commissioned to paint twenty floral studies he executed two hundred. Abundance flows through his work. He could not recall a time when he had not carried a sketchbook. From one there is a study of Kitty Garman, a perfect example of verity slipped into exaggeration, the model’s age and maturity left open. Other drawings appear to be rehearsals or fleeting visions caught on the wing, being succinct and informative. Work, for him, was life. He was knighted in 1954. On 19 August 1959 Epstein completed Rites of Spring, a father, mother and son accompanied by a dog, being led by Pan into the openness of Hyde Park. After taking tea with Lady Epstein, he fell and died of a heart attack. Taken from a longer essay by Angus Stewart, 2008
Angus Stewart has written on art for more than 50 years. He has been involved in theatrical and opera productions, in films and exhibitions - having curated 30 exhibitions on painters, sculptors and the decorative arts. His subjects have included Tibetan religious art, pre-Christian Middle Eastern culture, Anna Pugh, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, John Constable and Jane Austen. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and president of the British section of the International Association of Art Critics.
4. Fourteenth Portrait of Peggy Jean (without arms), bronze, 1931, h 58.4 cm, £22,000 Peggy Jean was Epstein’s much loved daughter by his mistress Dorothy Lindsell– Stewart (Meum) and this bronze was the penultimate portrait of the fifteen which he made of her. The Fourteenth Portrait of Peggy Jean, also known as Jeunesse (Youth), was made in 1932 when she was aged fifteen. Despite her youth she was already described by Richard Buckle as a buxom jovial woman. Peggy Jean eventually married Norman Hornstein, an Edinburgh lawyer whom she met in Paris, and settled in America.
5. Shulamite Woman (Arab girl), bronze, 1935, h 52 cm, ÂŁ26,000 Epsteinâ€™s inspiration for the Shulamite Woman seems to have been taken from the biblical story the Song of Solomon. King Solomon was always seeking contentment in the love of the Right Woman but this always eluded him despite having 700 women in his personal harem. In the biblical story Solomon met the exceptionally beautiful young virgin Shulamite Woman when touring his vineyards, married her and installed her in his harem. She could not get over her previous love for her Right Man, a young shepherd boy, and with the assistance of her brothers she escaped from the harem. The Shulamite Woman was reunited with her shepherd with whom she lived in happiness ever after whilst Solomon, in total contrast, married a young belly dancer and lived unhappily ever after.
6. Girl From Baku, bronze, 1944, h 56.5 cm, £25,000
In the Girl from Baku Epstein found something of that ‘Nefertiti look’ he had described in Dolores, Kathleen and Isobel. He modelled her with head held high, conscious of her beauty, a torrent of hair falling behind her shoulders: the naked torso, with arms at her sides, is cut off just above the navel.
7. Second Portrait of Annabel Freud (with curls), bronze, 1953, h 21 cm, £10,000
8. Tabitha, bronze, 1957, h 22.8 cm, £12,000
9. Annabel Freud, bronze, 1952, h 19 cm, £12,000
10. Ann Freud, bronze, 1952, h 19 cm, £12,000
Epstein's granddaughter, second daughter of Kitty and Lucian Freud.
Epstein's granddaughter, first daughter of Kitty and Lucian Freud.
11. Juanita Forbes (nude study), bronze, 1945, l 50.8 cm, ÂŁ15,000 The last of the series of reclining nudes which had preoccupied Epstein during part of the war. May be presented standing or lying down.
12. Jan Christian Smuts (plaster head), plaster, 1953-55, h 53 cm, ÂŁ10,000 Over-life-size plaster maquette of the head of the great South African Field-Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, commissioned by the Office of Works for Parliament Square.
13. Angel (based on Annabel Freud)
14. Angel (based on Isobel Hughes)
15. Angel (based on Peter)
16. Angel (based on Ian Hornstein)
Angel (door knobs), bronze, 1952, 10.2 x 8.7 cm, ÂŁ5,000 each Commissioned by Louis Osman for the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, Cavendish Square, London. Unique among Epsteinâ€™s work, the little bronzes have a marvellous vivacity. A few years later the sculptor had another set cast for Coventry Cathedral.
17. First Portrait of Jackie (bust with arms), bronze, 1935, h 30.5 cm, £12,500 Jackie, with his ‘dancing arms’, is the first portrait of Epstein’s son.
18. Eighth Portrait of Peggy Jean, bronze, 1921, h 26.5 cm, £11,500
19. Ninth Portrait of Peggy Jean (laughing), bronze, 1921, h 23 cm, £11,500
Epstein had always been fond of children. In October 1918 Peggy Jean was born and he had one of his own. He was fascinated by the baby’s changing expressions.
One of Epstein’s most remarkable studies of children. He has amazingly caught the moment when a child’s look of incomprehending wonder turns into laughter.
20. Victor, bronze, 1949, h 17.5 cm, £14,000 In 1949 Kathleen engaged a West African cook. She arrived at the door of 18, Hyde Park Gate, with five suitcases and her little son dressed entirely in white satin. The boy’s name was Victor; and Epstein made of him one of his most delightful heads…the sculptor, in modelling the planes of the boy’s head, has conveyed both a quality of sturdiness and an air of expectancy. Epstein thought him a handsome model, and wrote, ‘It was a good thing that there was something to compensate for his mother’s culinary defects’.
21. Tanya, bronze, c1936, h 56 cm, ÂŁ14,500 Tanya was a girl of Belgian and Russian parents. A voluptuous and catlike model of whom the sculptor made this curl-crowned portrait
22. Epping Forest, gouache, signed, 43.5 x 56 cm, ÂŁ6,000 Epstein's stays in Epping Forest were responsible for a new departure: an immense output of illustrative drawings, landscapes and flower studies in watercolour.
From about 1910 to 1930 Jacob Epstein was the best artist working in England, and he defended most nobly the repeated assaults of philistinism. He started as a master of style; he ended as a master of truth. Looking back on his work it is incredible that he was once insulted and abused. Lord Clark
23. Figure with Sword and Nudes, watercolour, 56 x 43.5 cm, ÂŁ6,000
24. Sunita with Clasped Hands, pencil, c1926, 50 x 39 cm, ÂŁ5,500
25. Sunita Reclining (head study), pencil, signed, 45 x 55 cm, £4,750
Amina Peerbhoy under the name of Sunita was to become perhaps the most famous of all Epstein’s models. She and her sister Miriam Patel left their husbands and India to keep a stall of exotic artifacts at the Wembley International Exhibition, which was where Epstein first met them. The sisters and Enver, Sunita’s son, moved in to live with the Epsteins so that the master might have models perpetually at hand… Of Sunita alone Epstein would make countless drawings in pencil. One of Sunita’s exploits was to disguise herself
as an Indian prince and come with a retinue to a restaurant where Epstein was dining with Kathleen Garman. Though Epstein and Kathleen watched her spectacular entrance, neither recognised her. Sunita fell in love with an illusionist who was supposed to have invented the trick of sawing women in half. She went on tour with him and was sawn in half all over the country. Finally she disappeared with the secretary of a maharajah into the heart of India, and nothing more was heard of her except a report of her death. Her great brooding eyes look down on Birmingham, Philadelphia and New York.
26. Fatigued, pencil, signed, 38 x 50.5 cm, ÂŁ4,750
27. Reclining Nude, pencil, signed, 43.7 x 56 cm, ÂŁ6,000
Photograph by Geoffrey Ireland
1880 Born of Jewish Russian/Polish parents in New York. 1888-1900 Produced numerous drawings of New York / Jewish life. Illustrated book, The Spirit of the Ghetto, by Hutchins Hapgood. Studied sculpture at evening classes under George Grey Barnard. 1902 Used fees from book illustrations to finance trip to study in Paris. Studied at École des Beaux Arts followed by the Académie Julian. 1905 Settled in London and took studio in Camden Town. After a visit to New York he returned to London and took a studio in Fulham. 1907 Commissioned to carve eighteen figures for the British Medical Association’s building in Agar Street, London. Moved to Cheyne Walk. 1908 Much controversy about his ‘indecent’ carvings for the B.M.A. building. Received first portrait commissions. 1911 Commissioned to carve the tomb of Oscar Wilde in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
1912-13 Went to Paris for erection of the Wilde tomb. Met Picasso, Brancusi and Modigliani. Returned to England and settled near Hastings. Carved Venus, the marble Mother & Child and Cursed be the Day Wherein I was Born. 1913 Original member of the London Group, where preliminary plaster version of Rock Drill was first exhibited. First solo exhibition held at the Twenty One Gallery, London. 1917 Venus exhibited at the Leicester Galleries. 1919 Risen Christ completed. 1925 Rima, the memorial to the writer W.H.Hudson, started the previous year, completed and unveiled in Hyde Park. 1926 The Visitation executed in Hyde Park. 1927 Madonna & Child, begun in 1926, completed. Solo show in New York. 1928-29 Day & Night, carvings for the new Underground Headquarters building at Westminster.
1929-31 Series of drawings made for the Old Testament. 1931 Genesis, begun in 1929, completed. 1933 Painted numerous watercolours of Epping Forest followed by a series of flower paintings. 1935 Carving Behold the Man first shown. Southern Rhodesian Government acquired the B.M.A. building and wished to remove the supposedly indecent figures. After protests the figures were retained.
Visited New York. Completed Cavendish Square Madonna. 1952 Retrospective exhibition held at Tate Gallery. Lazarus unveiled at New College, Oxford. 1953 Completed Social Consciousness in clay. Commissioned to make Christ for Llandaff Cathedral. Received D.C.L. at Oxford. 1954 Knighted and created K.B.E.
1937 Consummatum Est completed and exhibited.
1955 Commissioned to produce Smuts Memorial in Parliament Square and St. Michael & the Devil for the new Coventry Cathedral. Visited Philadelphia for the unveiling of Social Consciousness.
1938 Series of drawings for Baudelaireâ€™s Les Fleurs du Mal produced.
1956 Smuts Memorial unveiled in Parliament Square.
1939 Adam, begun in 1938, completed.
1957 Llandaff Christ unveiled. Made pastel landscapes in Scotland. William Blake Memorial unveiled in Westminster Abbey.
1941 Jacob and the Angel. 1943 Girl with the Gardenias. 1945 Lucifer. 1949 Lazarus. 1951 Youth Advances, commissioned by the Arts Council for the Festival of Britain, exhibited.
1958 Made portrait of Princess Margaret for the University of North Staffs. T.U.C. Building Memorial unveiled. 1959 Portraits made of Dr. Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury for Lambeth Palace and Sir Basil Spence for the R.I.B.A. Completed Bowater House group for bronze moulder on August 19th and died later the same day.
28. Jackie No 2, pencil, signed, 56 x 43.5 cm, ÂŁ4,000
Babson, Jane, The Epsteins: a Family Album, London, 1984 Buckle, Richard, Epstein Drawings, London, 1962 Buckle, Richard, Jacob Epstein, Sculptor, London, 1963 Cork, Richard, Jacob Epstein, London, 1999 Epstein, Jacob, Let There Be Sculpture, London, 1940 Epstein, Jacob, Epstein: an Autobiography, London, 1955 Epstein catalogues: Illustrations to the Old Testament, Redfern Gallery Ltd., 1932 Watercolours of Epping Forest, Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd., 1933 Flower Paintings, Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd., 1936 Drawings for Les Fleurs du Mal, Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd., 1938 The Epstein Collection of Tribal & Exotic Art, Arts Council, 1960 Epstein Memorial Exhibition, Edinburgh Festival, Epstein, Arts Council Memorial Exhibition, 1961
Jacob Epstein Sculpture & Drawing, Leeds Art Gallery and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1987 Friedman, Terry, and Silber, Evelyn, Jacob Epstein Sculpture and Drawings, Leeds and London, 1987 Friedman, Terry, The Hyde Park Atrocity, Epsteinâ€™s Rima, Creation and Controversy, Leeds, 1988 Gardiner, Stephen, Epstein Artist Against the Grain, London, 1992 Haskell, Arnold, The Sculptor Speaks, London, 1931 Ireland, Geoffrey & Lee, Laurie, Epstein a Camera Study of the Sculptor at Work, London, 1957 Powell, L.B., Jacob Epstein, London, 1932 Rose, June, Demons and Angels, a Life of Jacob Epstein, New York, 2002 Rutherston, Albert, (editor), Contemporary British Artists: Jacob Epstein, London, 1925 Silber, Evelyn, The Sculpture of Epstein, Oxford, 1986 Spence, Basil, Phoenix at Coventry, London, 1962 Van Dieren, Bernard, Epstein, London, 1920
29. Jackie in High Chair, pencil, signed, 53 x 40.5 cm, £3,500 Epstein’s son. He often made portraits of his son Jackie growing up. He affectionately nicknamed Jackie ‘Ragamuffin’.
National Portrait Gallery, London Joseph Conrad Jacob Epstein Augustus John George Bernard Shaw Tate Britain Gallery, London Torso in Metal from the Rock Drill Doves Albert Einstein Jacob and the Angel Westminster Abbey, London Monument to William Blake Hyde Park, London Rima (Memorial to W.H. Hudson) Cavendish Square, London The Hovering Madonna Parliament Square, London Jan Smuts Memorial Birmingham City Art Gallery The Archangel Lucifer Coventry Cathedral St. Michael and the Devil Llandaff Cathedral, Wales Christ New College Chapel, Oxford Lazarus Harewood House, Yorkshire Adam PĂ¨re Lachaise Cemetery, Paris Tomb of Oscar Wilde Metropolitan Museum, New York Sun God Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand Torso from the Rock Drill National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia Sunflower
Drawing of Jacob Epstein by Feliks Topolski
Selective List of Important Sculptures in Public Collections and Public Places
30. Child’s Head (maquette), clay, date unknown, h 21 cm, £4,000
We gratefully acknowledge the scholarship of Richard Buckle, Jacob Epstein, Sculptor, London, 1963 Evelyn Silber, The Sculpture of Epstein, Oxford, 1986
This edition first published in the United Kingdom in 2009 by Goldmark All rights reserved
Text ÂŠ Angus Stewart, 2008 Photography Jay Goldmark and Christian Soro Design Porter/Goldmark
GOLDMARK GALLERY 14 Orange Street Uppingham, Rutland, LE15 9SQ, UK +44 (0)1572 821424 firstname.lastname@example.org www.jacobepsteinsculpture.com www.goldmarkart.com
As a portrait sculptor he is unequalled in this century and his finest portraits are among the best ever created. Evelyn Silber The Sculpture of Epstein, Oxford, 1986
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