- Epstein, Sir Jacob
- (1880–1959)English sculptor. Jacob Epstein was one of the greatest sculptors of the twentieth century, but public recognition was slow in coming. During what he later called his ‘Thirty Years’ War with England’, some of Epstein’s work became a butt for popular ridicule. The son of Polish Jewish refugees, he grew up on the Lower East Side of New York, and studied in Paris. Epstein acknowledged the enormous influence upon his work of the pagan sculptors of Africa and pre-Colombian South America, as well as that of ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy. He settled in London in 1905 and was commissioned to do a series of figures - The Birth of Energy - for the British Medical Association building. The figures, nude and graphic, created an uproar. For years after, his work was similarly received: his statue for Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris spent some time hidden from view under a tarpaulin; Rima, in London, was regularly tarred and feathered; and his monolith Adam was displayed in a side-show in a fair.Over the years his powerful style matured, and expressed his interest in humanity and the essential forces of life and growth. The distortions of form in such pieces as Genesis, Adam, Lazarus and Ecce Homo continued to arouse hostile criticism. But a change in fashion in favour of abstractionists like Henry Moore, caused him to be regarded as a traditionalist. Epstein was much influenced by his early readings of the Bible and his drawings illustrating the Bible were magnificent. His Madonna in Cavendish Square, London, was one of his greatest achievements, and his portrait busts of Nehru, Weizmann, Einstein and others are regarded as masterpieces. He was knighted in 1954. Lady Epstein donated 105 of his early clays to the Israel Museum.
Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. Joan Comay . 2012.