On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 445 x 381 x 229 mm, 15.8 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1922
Reference
N03646

Display caption

Epstein grew up in New York, and studied in Paris before settling in London in 1905. Before the First World War he pioneered ‘direct carving’ and abstract art. In later years, he became celebrated as a portraitist, and modelled busts in clay. The sitter for this early bust was Nan Condron, a professional artist’s model, whom Epstein met at the Café Royal in Regent Street. Epstein worked from her for several years and sought a lively likeness that was expressive of her presence and character as well as her appearance.

Gallery label, February 2016

Catalogue entry

N03646 NAN 1909
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 17 1/2×15×9 (44×38×23).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1922.
Exh: Leicester Galleries, February–March 1917 (8); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, September–November 1952 (3); Edinburgh Festival, August–September 1961 (14, repr. pl.4).
Lit: Van Dieren, 1920, p.72, repr. pl.21; Wellington, 1925, p.15, repr. pl.3; Haskell, 1931, p.166; Buckle, 1963, pp.41–2, 59, 88, 424, repr. pls.59, 60.
Repr: Black, 1942, pl.2; Epstein, 1955, facing p.38.

The sitter was Nan Condron, a gipsy and a professional model. She also posed for Orpen and Rothenstein, but, becoming devoted to Epstein, she gave up working for other artists for several years. He made a number of sculptures of her, including a small sketch for this work; an undraped version of the head only, formerly in the Eumorfopoulos Collection (repr. Van Dieren, op. cit., pl.49); a nude seated figure ‘Nan Seated’ of 1911, height 19 in. (repr. Buckle, op. cit., pls.84, 85); and a reclining nude called ‘The Dreamer’, also of 1911 and 11 in. high (repr. Buckle, op. cit., pls. 83, 86). Three drawings of her made in 1909–11 are reproduced in Epstein and Buckle, 1962, pls. 22–4.

The right ear-ring on this cast has been broken off.

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