Sir Jacob Epstein

The Rt Hon. Ernest Bevin

1943

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 260 x 216 x 248 mm, 16 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946
Reference
N05689

Display caption

Ernest Bevin (1881-1951) was the General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union and a dominant figure in British left-wing politics. He was appointed Minister of Labour during the Second World War. This portrait belongs to Epstein’s series of war leaders, which was commissioned by the British government in 1943. It has been compared to an ancient Sumerian stone head owned by Epstein, reflecting Epstein’s interest in the sculpture of different eras and different cultures.

Jacob Epstein was born in New York in 1880 and died in London in 1959.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

N05689 THE RT. HON. ERNEST BEVIN 1943
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 10 1/4×8 1/2×9 3/4 (26×22×25).
Presented by the War Artists' Advisory Committee 1946.
Exh: National War Pictures, R.A., October–November 1945 (1041); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, September–November 1952 (43).
Lit: Epstein, 1955, p.230, repr. facing p.163; Buckle, 1963, pp.276–8, 428, repr. pl.425.

The Rt. Hon. Ernest Bevin (1881–1951), the outstanding Trade Union leader 1910–40 and Labour M.P. for Central Wandsworth 1940–50 and for East Woolwich 1950–1. He was Minister of Labour and National Service 1940–5, and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1945–51.

This bust, of which only one cast appears to have been made, was commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1943 for a nominal sum and became one of the most popular of a series of portrait busts of war leaders executed by the sculptor.

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