Sir Jacob Epstein

Mrs Mary McEvoy

1909

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 419 x 394 x 229 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1953
Reference
N06139

Display caption

Mary McEvoy (1871-1941) trained at the Slade School of Art, London, and is represented in the Tate Gallery's collection by a painting of a woman reading. She married the painter Ambrose McEvoy in 1902. She sat to Epstein for this portrait bust in 1909, and her family recall that it was modelled by candlelight as the electricity had been cut off. After the experience of modelling from Mary McEvoy using clay, Epstein decided to carve a bust of the same sitter in marble. This was bought by Johannesburg Art Gallery in 1910. Both the bronze and the marble busts capture the gentle strength of the sitter.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N06139 MRS MARY MCEVOY c. 1910
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 16 1/2×15 1/2×9 (42×39×23).
Chantrey Purchase from Mrs A. Bazell 1953.
Coll: Purchased from the artist by the sitter's daughter, Mrs Anna Bazell, c. 1949.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, February–March 1917 (4), as ‘Mrs Ambrose McEvoy’; Grosvenor Galleries, summer 1922 (38); Farargil Galleries, New York, November 1927 (13); Jacob Epstein and Matthew Smith, Temple Newsam, Leeds, July–September 1942 (7), as lent by the Leicester Galleries; Tate Gallery, September–November 1952 (4); R.A., 1953 (1280); Edinburgh Festival, August–September 1961 (16).
Lit: Van Dieren, 1920, p.72, repr. pl.24; Haskell, 1931, p.167; Epstein, 1940, p.56; ibid., 1955, p.42; Buckle, 1963, pp.23, 39–41, 424, repr. pls.55–6.
Repr: Royal Academy Illustrated, 1953, p.88.

The bust is dated 1910 by Haskell, loc. cit., but Buckle, loc. cit., dates it 1909. Cf. N03187.

The sitter was Mary Spencer Edwards (1871–1941), wife of Ambrose McEvoy, both painters. Her daughter wrote (9 September 1959); ‘Apart from its merits as a work of art, this bust was also an amazing likeness of my mother.’ Buckle notes (op. cit., p.40) that the bust was modelled by candlelight as the electricity had been cut off.

A marble bust made shortly after the bronze was acquired by the Municipal Art Gallery, Johannesburg, by 1911 and is reproduced in Buckle, op. cit., pl.57. Another bronze of N06139 is in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1077), purchased 1933. A third cast was made for Mrs Bazell in 1953.

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