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The Epstein Torso

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1962,0420.1

  • Title (object)

    • The Epstein Torso
  • Description

    Standing figure of a four-armed goddess carved in a reddish-beige sandstone.

    The goddess, following standard conventions, is depicted with large breasts and stands in a slight contraposto. She wears bangles, arm ornaments and a lower garment that is evidenced only by two bits of cloth falling over the girdle and, lower down, faint loops above the ankles. A garland once went round the figure and fell across the legs just above the ankles. The heavy girdle (mekhalā) has double loops and tassels draped over the thighs; a long attachment falls between the legs. The jewellery around the goddess's neck has a square central locket showing twelve stones (as opposed to the nine stones found in most extant jewellery). The necklace has an attachment which comes between the breasts and loops round the sides, a common arrangement in both male and female figures. An additional lower necklace falls over and between the breasts to accentuate their size. The head, feet and all but one arm are missing.

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  • Date

    • 11thC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 70 centimetres (object only)
    • Width: 41 centimetres
    • Depth: 20 centimetres
    • Height: 80 centimetres (approx on mount)
    • Width: 40 centimetres
    • Depth: 27 centimetres
    • Weight: 31 kilograms
    • Weight: 24 kilograms (mount)
    • Weight: 55 kilograms (object on mount)
    • Height: 5 centimetres (Mount only)
  • Curator's comments

    Blurton, 1997:
    The ornaments are cut in a sharp repetitive manner, and the figure, despite its fullness, is modelled with strict precision. The style is characteristic of the eleventh century, but rather better than found at Khajurāho, suggesting that this piece is from Rajāsthān. The carving is not in the round, the details on the sides becoming increasingly schematic towards the back; this indicates that the figure was set in a niche or against the wall of a temple. Before entering the collections of the British Museum, it belonged to the sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein.

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  • Bibliography

    • Barker 1988 (p. 909; exhibition of torso at Whitechapel in 1987) bibliographic details
    • Blurton 1997 261 bibliographic details
    • Koezuka (1994) Cat. no. 30 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited: Masterpieces of Buddhist and Hindu Sculpture from the British Museum (Kyoto and Tokyo 1994), no. 30. 1987 16 Apr-21 Jun, Leeds, Leeds City Art Gallery, Jacob Epstein Sculpture and Drawings 1987 10 Jul-13 Sep, London, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, Jacob Epstein Sculpture and Drawings 1997 13 Oct-1998 5 Jan, India, New Delhi, National Museum, The Enduring Image, no. 261. 1998 9 Feb-3 May, India, Mumbai, Sir Caswasjee Jahangir Hall, The Enduring Image, no. 261. 2003 18 Oct-14 Dec, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2004 17 Jan-28 Mar, Kobe City Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2004 10 Apr-13 Jun, Fukuoka Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2004 26 Jun-29 Aug, Niigata Bandaijima Art Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2005 11 Apr-10 Jul, Seoul Arts Centre, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2005 25 Jul-8 Oct, Busan Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2005 27 Oct-2006 31 Jan, Haengso Museum, Keimyung University, Daegu, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2006 18 Mar-4 Jun, Beijing, Capital Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2007 3 Feb-27 May, Taipei, National Palace Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2007 14 Sep-2 Dec, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2009 1 May-20 Sep, Victoria, Royal BC Museum, Treasures of the World's Cultures 2009 11 Dec-2010 10 May, Madrid, Canal de Isabel II, Treasures of the World's Cultures
    2015-2016 Dec-Mar, Seoul Arts Centre, The Human Image

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1962

  • Acquisition notes

    Mounted in Epstein's studio.

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1962,0420.1

COMPASS Title: Sandstone figure of a Hindu goddess

Unknown

COMPASS Title: Sandstone figure of a Hindu goddess

Image description

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Object reference number: RRI10014

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