Sir Jacob Epstein

Study for ‘The Rock Drill’

c.1913

Medium
Charcoal on paper
Dimensions
Support: 641 x 533 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1960
Reference
T00363

Display caption

In his autobiography of 1940 Epstein recalled 'The Rock Drill' both in the first version depicted here, and in its final state: 'It was in the experimental pre-war days of 1913 that I was fired to do the rock-drill, and my ardour for machinery (short-lived) expended itself upon the purchase of an actual drill...and upon this I made and mounted a machine-like robot, visored, menancing, and carrying within itself its progeny, protectively ensconsed. Here is the armed, sinister figure of today and tomorrow. No humanity, only the terrible Frankenstein's monster we have made ourselves into...Later I lost my interest in machinery and discarded the drill. I cast in metal only the upper part of the figure'.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T00363 STUDY FOR ‘THE ROCK DRILL’ c. 1913
 
Not inscribed.
Charcoal, 25 1/4×21 (64×53).
Purchased from Lady Epstein through the Leicester Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1960.
Exh: (?) Twenty-One Gallery, December 1913–January 1914 (1 or 2); Leicester Galleries, June–July 1960 (77); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, November–December 1961 (104).

One of a series of studies for ‘The Rock Drill’, T00340. A similar drawing of the front view is reproduced by Epstein and Buckle, 1962, pl.31, and pl.32 in the same book shows one of the figures seen from the back (both are repr. Buckle, 1963, pls.92, 93). Another drawing of the back view is reproduced by Van Dieren, 1920, pl.12. Four drawings for ‘The Rock Drill’ were shown at the Edinburgh Festival exhibition, 1961 (43–6), including some or all of those mentioned above.

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