Description: SIR JACOB EPSTEIN 1880-1959 MOTHER AND CHILD, STANDING bronze height: 167.5cm.; 66in.
Exhibited: London, Battersea Park, Sculpture in the Open Air, 1960, cat. no.19, illustrated in the catalogue (another cast).
Literature: Richard Buckle, Jacob Epstein Sculptor, Faber and Faber Ltd London, p.54, pl.77 (another cast);
Evelyn Silber, The Sculpture of Epstein, Phaidon Oxford, 1986, cat. no.34, p.129, illustrated (another cast);
Evelyn Silber et al., Jacob Epstein: Sculpture and Drawings, Leeds City Art Galleries, 1987, fig.65, illustrated p.149 (another cast).
Provenance: Acquired directly from Lady Epstein by the present owner in October 1963
Notes: Conceived in 1911 and cast in an edition of three. The present cast is number 3.
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The present sculpture is one of fourteen based on the theme of pregnancy and birth which Epstein produced between 1907-1917. The substantial size of the sculpture and the expression of maternal peace on the mother's face (based on the head of Marie Rankin, 1910-1911, whilst the child is based on Romilly John, 1907) relates Mother and Child, Standing very closely to the majestic Maternity (Coll. Leeds City Art Galleries) which Evelyn Silber has suggested Epstein may have intended as part of the 'great scheme of doing some colossal figures... a sort of twentieth century Stonehenge' as Gill described the project in September 1910. (Evelyn Silber et al., Jacob Epstein: Sculpture and Drawings, Leeds City Art Galleries, 1987, p.142)
In these great columns of maternal sculpture, Epstein presents a modernist interpretation of the traditional image of human serenity, the mother and child. The facial features and thick, curved limbs show the influence of African sculpture and artists as varied as Modigliani, Elie Nadelman and Maillol on Epstein's work. Epstein would take the abstraction of the mother and child to another level two years later when he carved Mother and Child (1913-1914, Coll. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of A. Conger Goodyear) where the figures have lost their monumentality and are cut off at the shoulder, their facial features dramatically simplified.