Epstein, Sir Jacob

Epstein, Sir Jacob ĕpˈstīn [key], 1880–1959, sculptor, b. New York City. He studied with Rodin in Paris and later worked chiefly in England. In revolt against the ornate and the pretty in art, Epstein produced bold, often harsh and massive forms in stone or bronze that were the subjects of frequent controversy. His 18 large figures on the British Medical Association Building (1907–8) were removed in 1937 as offensive and structurally dangerous. Epstein's major pieces include the Oscar Wilde Memorial (1911; Père-Lachaise, Paris); a marble Venus (1917; Yale Univ., New Haven, Conn.); a bronze Christ (1919; Wheathamstead, England); the “Rima” figure that forms the W. H. Hudson Memorial (1925; Hyde Park, London); an enormous Adam in alabaster (1939; Blackpool, England); figures for Fairmount Park, Philadelphia; and a Madonna and Child (Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, London). Some of Epstein's best-known work is in bronze portraiture, executed with roughly textured surfaces. His perceptive portraits include those of the duke of Marlborough, Joseph Conrad, Albert Einstein, and Jawaharlal Nehru. Epstein was knighted in 1954.

See his autobiography (2d ed. 1963); drawings ed. by Kathleen Epstein (1962); biography by J. Rose (2002); study by Robert Black (1942).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: European Art, 1600 to the Present: Biographies