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The large head, short limbs and symmetrical pose of this figure follow African rather than European sculptural conventions. Epstein admired Egyptian, Assyrian and African sculptures which he had seen in the British Museum and himself built up an important collection of African art. He equated what was seen then as ‘primitive’ art with a free sexuality and creativity, which he expressed here through the pregnant female form. The term ‘flenite’ used in the title was invented by Epstein to refer to the flinty hardness of the stone used, actually a material called serpentine.

July 2007