Sir Jacob Epstein

Ann Freud

1949–50

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 280 x 190 x 203 mm, 11.3 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by Alison, Lady Hayter 1987
Reference
T04940

Display caption

In later life, Epstein became a celebrated portrait sculptor and was commissioned to make busts of many distinguished public figures. This sculpture, in contrast, shows a small child with a mop of curly hair and rounded cheeks, apparently caught mid-movement. Ann Freud was Epstein’s grand-daughter, the child of his daughter Kitty who was married to painter Lucian Freud. Epstein cherished his grand-daughter’s ‘spontaneity and charm’ which he captured in this sensitive, personal portrait.

Jacob Epstein was born in New York in 1880 and died in London in 1959.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T04940 Ann Freud 1949–50

Bronze 280 × 190 × 203 (11 × 7 1/2 × 8) on marble base 152 × 152 × 89 (6 × 6 × 3 1/2)
Not inscribed
Bequeathed by Lady Hayter and acquired 1987
Prov: Purchased from the artist by Lady Hayter ?c.1952
Lit: Richard Buckle, Jacob Epstein: Sculptor, 1963, p.337, repr. figs.521–2 (another cast, as ‘Anne Freud’, dated 1950); Evelyn Silber, The Sculpture of Jacob Epstein, with a Complete Catalogue, Oxford 1986, p.206 no.418, repr. (another cast); Evelyn Silber and Terry Friedman, Jacob Epstein: Sculpture and Drawings, exh. cat., Leeds City Art Galleries 1987, p.94, dated 1949, p.259, repr. p.258 (another cast); Stephen Gardiner, Epstein, Artist against the Establishment, 1992, p.415

This small bronze of a young child's head is a portrait of Ann Freud, one of the artist's granddaughters. The bronze has a brown patination with some golden areas, particularly around the eyes, the nose and in the hair. Mounted on a two-tier polished black marble base, the sculpture tilts slightly upwards so that only the back of the neck rests on the base. This angled position creates the impression of the tilt of a small child's face as it looks at an adult. The sitter is shown here with a mop of curly hair, relatively thick eyebrows, large eyes with hollow irises, decidedly rounded cheeks, and protuding open lips through which can be glimpsed her two front teeth. The child's eyes are imperfectly aligned (very young children often appear slightly cross-eyed), and her expression is one of urgency and intense interest.

Ann Freud was the eldest daughter of Kitty Garman (daughter of Kathleen Garman and Epstein) and the artist Lucian Freud Garman and Freud had married in 1947. Ann was born in the summer of 1948, and her sister Annabel followed a few years later. Epstein executed a portrait head of Annabel while she was still a baby, entitled ‘First Portrait of Annabel Freud (with Bonnet)’, 1952 (repr. Silber 1986, p.213 no.452). Taking away the bow of the bonnet, Epstein then used casts of this head and of the portrait of her elder sister in a double portrait entitled ‘Ann and Annabel Freud (The Sisters)’. This work, also made in 1952, shows the two heads, mounted on a stepped wooden base (repr. ibid., p.214 no.453).

Epstein, who lived and worked in Hyde Park Gate, Kensington, liked making portraits of children, a subject which he felt had long been ignored. Among his earliest surviving sculptures are two bronze heads of babies (repr. Silber 1986, p.119 nos.3, 4). With the birth of his daughter Peggy Jean in 1918, Epstein began a long series of heads of the child (the earliest was done when she was only three months old), recording her different expressions and moods: see, for example, ‘Seventh Portrait of Peggy Jean (Pouting, Bust with Hands)’, 1920–1, and ‘Twelfth Portrait of Peggy Jean (The Sick Child)’, 1928 (repr. ibid., p.148 no.117 and p.163 no.186). He commemorated the arrival of his son Jackie in 1935 and his granddaughter Leda (daughter of Peggy Jean) in 1939 with portraits of the children while still infants. He also executed portraits of the children of friends.

In his book Let There Be Sculpture: An Autobiography, first published in 1940, Epstein devoted a chapter to explaining his fascination with portraying children, notwithstanding the difficulties involved. He began (p.202):

I have always been attracted by children as models for plastic work. I feel that the life of children has hardly been touched upon in sculpture, and this representation is avoided perhaps because of the difficulties that confront an artist who sets out to present a child. For one thing the child cannot sit still, and to compel a child to be quiet is at once to destroy the spontaneity and charm which lie in its frank and natural expressions. Yet I have attempted time and time this most difficult subject for sculpture...I know I have by no means exhausted the subject. The Florentines had a special love of children. From Donatello's mad incarnations of robust vitality, to graceful Verrocchio's, to the waywardness of a Desiderio Da Settignano.

To work from a child the sculptor has to have endless patience. He must wait and observe, and observe and wait. The small forms, so seemingly simple, are in reality so subtle, and the hunting of the form is an occupation that is at once tantalising and fascinating. At the end of an hour or two the nerves of an artist are torn to shreds, and neurasthenia and eye-strain might well result from a too prolonged preoccupation with this form of sculptural expression.

On a personal note, he recorded how much he had enjoyed making the studies of Peggy Jean (ibid., p.203):

To work from a child seemed to me the only work worth doing, and I was prepared to go for the rest of my life looking at Peggy Jean, and making new studies of her...I regret that I have not done more children, and I plan some day to do only children. I think I should be quite content with that, and not bother about the grown-ups at all.

A notable feature of this portrait of Ann Freud is the use of deep hollows for the irises of her eyes. For Silber (Silber and Friedman 1987, p.259), in the portraits of Ann and Annabel Freud ‘youthful innocence is expressed by treating the eye-sockets as deep, dark voids’. Epstein first treated the irises of the eyes of his sitters in this way in the mid-1920s (see ‘Eileen Proudfoot’, 1923, repr. ibid., p.153 no.139, and ‘First Portrait of Enver (Head)’, 1925, repr. ibid., p.157 no.158). The device is associated particularly with ancient Roman bronzes. Richard Buckle (1963, p.337) linked the expression of ‘Ann Freud’ to another sculpture: ‘With her parted lips and upturned wondering eyes, Ann seems intended as a pendant or sequel to the “First Portrait of Kitty (with curls)” [1944, repr. Silber 1986, p.195 no.356]’.

At present it is not known exactly when T04940 was made, although it is thought to be an early cast, purchased from the artist in the early 1950s. It is also not known how many casts exist in all. In her 1986 catalogue raisonné Silber listed five casts of ‘Ann Freud’, not including T04940. At least four casts of the double portrait ‘Ann and Annabel Freud (The Sisters)’, 1952, are known, and it is possible that more were subsequently cast. In a letter to the compiler dated 29 August 1990 Lord Hayter, step-son of Lady Hayter, who bequeathed T04940 to the Tate Gallery, wrote: ‘We think my stepmother bought it from Mr Epstein - and was somewhat annoyed when, I gather, extra casts were made of it’. In a letter to the compiler dated 8 October 1987 Evelyn Silber also raised the possibility that some posthumous casts were made:

The cast bequeathed to you by Lady Hayter is new to me. It is not, as far as I can tell, identical with any of the casts I have listed in my book... When exactly all the casts were made is a harder question to answer. All the ones I list would have been made in Epstein's lifetime but it is not inconceivable that Lady Epstein might have cast one or two extras because Ann Freud was after all her grandchild and she may have wanted a cast for members of the family.

It is known that a cast was exhibited at the Leicester Galleries in March 1950 (no.16, as ‘Ann Lucia Freud’), although it is not clear whether the original clay was made in 1949 or in the early months of 1950. At this show Epstein also exhibited casts of ‘Roland Joffe’ (repr. Silber 1986, p.206 no.419) and the ‘Fourth Portrait of Jackie’ (repr.ibid., no.420), all dated by Silber 1949–50. It is possible that he intended these heads of children to form a group at the exhibition. In the absence of precise information regarding the modelling of the original clay and the casting of the bronzes, it has been thought best to retain the dating of 1949–50, given in the catalogue raisonné.

T04940 has a two-tier base made of black marble. The example illustrated in the 1987 Leeds City Art Galleries catalogue (private collection, repr. p.258 no.166), however, rests on a rectangular block, while ‘Annabel Freud (First Portrait, with Bonnet)’ (Beth Lipkin, repr. ibid., p.259 no.167) is on the same type of base as T04940. Another cast of ‘Ann Freud’, originally owned by Lucian Freud, has a two-tier base made of light-coloured material (repr. Modern British and Irish Water-colours, Drawings and Sculpture, sale cat., Phillips 6 March 1990, lot 32). It has not been possible to establish the significance of the different bases used for the various examples of this sculpture.

According to Lord Hayter, T04940 was never exhibited by his step-mother who, under the name of Alison Pickard, had exhibited sculptures herself at the Royal Academy more than once. In a letter dated 28 November 1994 he wrote, ‘I can't give you a precise date for the purchase - possibly about 1952... I personally met Epstein at the house of a friend of mine, a well-known architect Frank Dark who lived near Epstein in Hyde Park Gate. Probably that's how my step-mother met him as well’.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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