Sir Jacob Epstein

Jacob Kramer


Sir Jacob Epstein 1880–1959
Object: 658 × 539 × 332 mm, 35.5 kg
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1924

Display caption

Jacob Kramer (1892–1962) was a painter, originally from the Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire). His family left Russia following violent anti-Jewish pogroms and settled in Leeds in 1900. Kramer attended Leeds School of Art and was based in the city throughout his career. Epstein was born in the United States, and his parents were also Jewish refugees. The two artists were close friends and modelled for each other. Epstein later wrote that Kramer ‘was a model who seemed to be on fire’ and that ‘energy seemed to leap into his hair as he sat’.

Gallery label, April 2021

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Catalogue entry

N03849 JACOB KRAMER 1921
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 25×21×10 (64×53×25·5).
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1924.
Coll: Purchased by the C.A.S. from the artist 1921; lent to the Tate Gallery 1923.
Exh: C.A.S., Paintings and Drawings, Grosvenor House, June–July 1923 (29A); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, September–November 1952 (18); Arts Council, Tate Gallery, November–December 1961 (18, detail repr. pl.10).
Lit: Wellington, 1925, p.26, repr. pl.22; Haskell, 1931, p.178; Powell, 1932, p.117 Epstein, 1940, p.113, repr. facing p.136; ibid., 1955, p.94; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery, 1958, pp.189–90, repr. pl.15; exh. cat., Jacob Kramer, Leeds, September–October 1960; Buckle, 1963, pp.110, 425, repr. pls.173, 174.
Repr: Herbert Maryon, Modern Sculpture, 1933, pl.101; Black, 1942, pl.12.

Jacob Kramer (1892–1962) was a painter born in the Ukraine who settled at Leeds in 1900; a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Leeds City Art Gallery in September– October 1960. He was on friendly terms with Epstein, who wrote to him on 29 November 1920 to ask if Kramer was still in the mood to sit for him: ‘I would want to do your head, torso and arms. In return I will sit to you and you can make drawings or an oil study.’ Epstein (loc. cit.) wrote later of the sittings: ‘The Leeds painter, Kramer, was a model who seemed to be on fire. He was extraordinarily nervous. Energy seemed to leap into his hair as he sat, and sometimes he would be shaken by queer tremblings like ague. I would try to calm him, so as to get on with the work.’

Another cast is at Temple Newsam, Leeds, and one was bought by Professor Oko for the Hebrew Museum, Cincinnati. The bust was to have been used for the figure of St John in a group of ‘The Descent from the Cross’, but this work was never carried out. The ‘Weeping Woman’ of 1922 (of which there is a cast at Leicester) was intended for the same group.

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

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