Sir Jacob Epstein

Esther

1930

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 533 x 635 x 254 mm, 29.3 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Howard Bliss 1945
Reference
N05579

Display caption

During the decade of the 1930s Epstein modelled over one hundred portraits ranging from commissions of eminent men to uncommissioned busts of favourite models. Esther was a black half-Jewish nightclub entertainer whose sister Rebecca also posed for Epstein. Esther combined her nightclub work with the life of a professional artist's model. The vigorously modelled surfaces of this bronze bust are an example of the great vitality Epstein managed to infuse into his work at this time, whether modelled portrait busts or imaginative stone carvings.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

N05579 ESTHER 1930
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 21×25×10 (53×63·5×25·5).
Presented by Howard Bliss 1945.
Coll: Purchased by Howard Bliss from the Leicester Galleries 1931.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, February 1931 (4); Jacob Epstein and Matthew Smith, Temple Newsam, Leeds, July–September 1942 (43); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, September–November 1952 (32).
Lit: Haskell, 1931, p.190, repr. facing p.55; Buckle, 1963, pp.174, 426, repr. pl.266.

Modelled from a half Negro half Jewish night-club entertainer whose sister, Rebecca (repr. Buckle, op. cit., pl.265), also sat to the sculptor. Buckle calls N05579 ‘Betty (Esther)’ to distinguish it from later busts of the sculptor's youngest daughter, Esther, made in 1944, 1948 and 1949 (repr. Buckle, op. cit., pls.449–55, 482, 509–11). Several casts exist of the Tate Gallery bronze.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I