The Camden Town Group in Context

ISBN 978-1-84976-385-1

Jacob Epstein Letter to James Bolivar Manson 5 May 1940

Jacob Epstein 'Letter to James Bolivar Manson' 5 May 1940
Jacob Epstein 1880–1959
Letter to James Bolivar Manson 5 May 1940
Tate Archive TGA 806/1/304
© The estate of Sir Jacob Epstein
The sculptor Jacob Epstein and the painter James Bolivar Manson met in 1903 when they shared a studio in Paris while studying. Despite their artistic differences, the two became good friends and obviously encouraged and helped one another.
The official tone of this letter, written in 1940, implies that they may have grown apart. But the fact that Manson, as then Director of the Tate Gallery, had protested against the proposed removal of Epstein’s sculptures from Rhodesia House (formerly the British Medical Association) on the Strand in a letter to the Times on 10 May 1935 suggests that the two were still supportive of one another. Despite this letter of protest, signed by important members of the art world including William Rothenstein and Kenneth Clark, the statues were hacked back in 1937 after a stone head fell and grazed a pedestrian. Epstein charted the complete saga in the appendix to his autobiography Let There Be Sculpture (1940), including the Times letter, which he asked Manson’s permission to reproduce in this letter.
Sarah Crellin, ‘Let There Be History: Epstein’s BMA House Sculptures’, in Penelope Curtis and Keith Wilson (eds.), Modern British Sculpture, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London 2011, pp.36–42.

Helena Bonett
July 2011


[Typescript with some handwritten words: ]
WEStern 5723.
18 Hyde Park Corner,
5 May 1940
Dear Manson
 My publishers have approached me about asking your permission for the inclusion in my autobiography, “Let There Be Sculpture”, of your signature to a letter in the Times 10 May 1935 when you signed with 8 other heads of art kingdoms protesting against the removal or mutilation of my Strand Statues. I should like to reprint this letter just as a matter of interest and of verification of the history of art events of that date.
   Faithfully yours,
    Jacob Epstein
James Bolivar Manson Esq
22 Bolton Studios
Gilston Road

How to cite

Jacob Epstein, Letter to James Bolivar Manson, 5 May 1940, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012,, accessed 22 May 2024.