Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Bronze Bust of the Actress Juanita Forbes (b.1929) 1950c.

Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)

Bronze Bust of the Actress Juanita Forbes (b.1929), Sir Jacob Epstein
20th Century
18 1/2 inches high 46.8 cm without base
Epstein was born in the United States, although he only discovered his artistic identity on his move to London in 1905. His manner, which was at first inspired by an only partially-digested melange of Renaissance, Classical and modern French sources, was in maturity recognised as one of the most original and versatile talents of twentieth century British sculpture. Epstein produced numerous public and private works, including the statue of Rima (Kensington Palace Gardens), the colossal statue of Lucifer (Birmingham Museum and Art Galleries) and Jacob and The Angel (Granada Television on loan to Tate Britain).

The private, often tormented, world that these mythological and fantastic figures inhabit is shared by Epstein's portrait subjects, and sculptures such as this suggest a spirituality distinct to the artist. Epstein was a suitable artist for a suggestion of the ineffable and the monumental. The feeling of dread - and admiration- experienced before the statue of Lucifer, is akin to the awareness of animism that this bust communicates to the viewer. It is unsurprising that Epstein produced portrait sculpture of such titanic figure as Winston Churchill and Joseph Conrad.
Jacob Epstein was knighted in 1954.
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