Jacob (1880) Epstein (1880 - 1959)

Lot 68: Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)


November 18, 2005
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item

Description: Joseph Conrad (bust)
bronze with a light brown patina
20 in. (48.2 cm.) high
Conceived in 1924.
Artist or Maker: Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)
Literature: H. Wellington, Jacob Epstein, London, 1925, p. 27, pl. 35, another cast illustrated.
L. B. Powell, Jacob Epstein, London, 1935, p. 67.
J. Epstein, Let there be Sculpture, London, 1940, p. 42, another cast illustrated.
R. Black, The Art of Jacob Epstein, New York, 1942, no. 109, pl. 19, another cast illustrated.
J. Epstein, An Autobiography, London, 1955, pp. 73-77, another cast illustrated.
R. Buckle, Jacob Epstein Sculptor, London, 1963, pp. 130-1, pls. 202-3, another cast illustrated.
E. Silber, The Sculpture of Epstein, Oxford, 1986, pp. 41, 61, no. 148, pl. 15, another cast illustrated.
Provenance: W. B. Leeds, anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 5 April 1967, lot 69.

This work was commissioned by the Polish Government in 1924, but not purchased. Epstein was a great admirer of Conrad's work, and found sympathy and respect in the why that the elderly writer viewed his own. The artist recalled (An Autobiography, loc. cit.), 'A sculptor had previously... represented him as an open-necked, romantic, out-of-door type of person. In appearance Conrad was the very opposite. His clothes were immaculately conventional, and his collar enclosed his neck like an Iron Maiden's vice or garotter's grip. He was worried if his hair and beard were not neat and trim as became a sea captain. There was nothing shaggy and bohemian about him... Conrad gave me a feeling of defeat, but defeat met with courage... [he] had a demon expression in the left eye, while his right eye was smothered by a drooping lid, but the eyes glowed with a great intensity of feeling. The drooping, weary lids intensified the impression of brooding thought. The whole head revealed a man who had suffered much. A head set on shoulders hunched about his ears. When he was seated, the shoulders gave the impression of a pedestal for the head'.
Evelyn Silber (loc. cit.) comments that 'a comparison between the sculpted head and photographs of Conrad reassures us as to the accuracy of Epstein's portrayal, but its psychological and sculptural quality far transcends mere physical likeness'.

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