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For this sculpture, Epstein initially set a plaster figure on top of an actual pneumatic rock drill. This ‘machine-like robot, visored, menacing and carrying within itself its progeny’ became a symbol of the new age. He even considered adding a motor to make the piece move.Following the carnage of the First World War, Epstein removed the drill, cut the figure down to half-length and changed its arms; this torso was cast in bronze, as shown here. Mutilated and shorn of its virility, the once-threatening figure is now vulnerable and impotent, the victim of the violence of modern life.

July 2007