Sir Jacob Epstein

Albert Einstein


Not on display

Sir Jacob Epstein 1880–1959
Object: 536 × 293 × 254 mm, 28 kg
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1934

Display caption

The famous physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955) fled Germany in 1933, and was staying in a refugee camp in Britain when Epstein made this portrait bust. However, Einstein left to take up a professorship at Princeton before it was completed. Epstein later described Einstein’s ‘wild hair floating in the wind’ and wrote that ‘his glance contained a mixture of the humane, the humorous, and the profound. This was a combination that delighted me. He resembled the ageing Rembrandt’.

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

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Not inscribed.
Bronze, 17×11×10 (43×28×25).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1934.
Exh: Arthur Tooth & Sons, December 1933 (not numbered); R.A., 1934 (1593); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, September–November 1952 (34); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, November–December 1961 (34), incorrectly dated 1932.
Lit: Epstein, 1940, p.94, repr. facing p.86; ibid., 1955, p.77, repr. facing p.71; Buckle, 1963, pp.125, 170, 206, 337, 416, 427, repr. pl.320.
Repr: Royal Academy Illustrated, 1934, p.130; Black, 1942, p.62.

Professor Albert Einstein (1879–1955), the mathematician and physicist, originator of the Special Theory of Relativity 1905, Laws of the Photoelectric Effect 1905, and the General Theory of Relativity 1917.

Modelled at a refugee camp near Cromer to which Einstein had fled in 1933 when there were rumours of his intended assassination in Berlin. Epstein described the sittings (op. cit.) and noted Einstein's resemblance to the ageing Rembrandt. He added that the work had not been carried to completion when Einstein had to leave for America. He was Professor at Princeton University 1933–55.

Other casts are in the Science Museum, the University of Liverpool, the City Art Gallery, Birmingham, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and a number in private collections, including at least six in the U.S.A.

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

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