Biography of Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)

Pioneer of modern sculpture, born on November 10, 1880 in New York and died in London on August 19, 1959.

In 1902 he/she goes to Paris, where he/she studied at the Academy of fine arts and at the Julian Academy until 1904. Visits to the Louvre awakened his interest in primitive and ancient sculpture.After traveling through the continent and visiting Florence, moved to London in 1905, and two years later obtained British nationality. In 1907 received his first Commission: the likes of eighteen figures for the headquarters of the British Medical Association in Strand. The emphasis in the nude and the issue of procreation offend the public and produce scandal (the figures were mutilated in 1935).

In 1910 they charge you the tomb of Oscar Wilde for the cemetery Pere Lachaise in Paris. He/She shows the poet as a winged angel-demonio, but authorities again are offended by the nudity of the figure and covered it with tar. The idea is inspired by the great Assyrian winged bulls of the British Museum and in the exotic symbolism of the own Wilde.Con reason for this stay in Paris, in 1912 met Brancusi, Picasso and Modigliani. The next year is set at Pett Level, Sussex, and during a period of intense activity made The Rock Drill, a mechanistic figure of a man mounted on a drill plaster. It is one of the capital's first modern sculpture. Its origins are in Cubism and futurism, and it has affinities with works of Boccioni and the readymades of Duchamp, which appeared in the same year. There is a degree of inspiration and invention that more will not appear in the work of Epstein. It will end up rejecting that part of his imagination and the reasons that led you to make this sculpture when years later described as "a sinister figure armed today and tomorrow... no humanity, only the terrible Frankenstein monster that we have developed".

In 1913 it is briefly associated with the Vorticism and exhibited with the London Group in 1915 the original version of The Rock Drill; he/she collaborates with two drawings in the first number of the vorticist magazine Blast. The following year he/she exhibits a truncated version, without the pneumatic drill, thereby renouncing an avant-garde attitude.

His major commissions during the twenties are rhyme (1925) for the W.H. Hudson Memorial in Hyde Park, and figures night and day of 1929 for St. James Park, after which did not receive any other public order in twenty-two years. From this time made plenty of portraits in bronze, of which the best known is the from Albert Einstein (1933), portrait in which continuous the romantic tradition of the expressive naturalism in the line of Rodin. Among its large groups in bronze are Madonna and Child (1951), for the Convent of the Holy Child, and Saint Michael and the Devil (1957) in Coventry Cathedral.

Throughout his life he/she drew continually and made watercolors of landscapes and still lifes. He/She was cultured, amateur music and poetry, and great art collector primitive, especially African.


British art in the 20th century, Prestel-Verlag, 1987.

A biographical dictionary of artist, London. Sir Lawrence Gowing Editor, 1994.