Sir Jacob Epstein (Biographical details)

Sir Jacob Epstein (sculptor/medallist; collector; British; Male; 1880 - 1959)

Also known as

Epstein, Jacob

Biography

(Sir) Jacob Epstein (1880 – 1959), sculptor, born in New York City, of Russian-Polish parents. Epstein moved to Paris 1902 where he studied pre-classical and non-European sculpture in the Louvre and other museums. In 1905 he moved to London, became associated with Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska - although was not affiliated to their avant-garde Vorticist group of artists and writers (active 1914 - 1919) - developed his often controversial sculpting career and pursued his passion for collecting sculpture from non-European cultures, particularly from Africa and Oceania. Epstein contended - no doubt in response to comment to the contrary - that his own art practice, while influenced by ‘primitive work’, remained in the European tradition. His major collection of ethnographic sculpture was exhibited in 1960 – the year after his death - by the Arts Council and significant parts were sold at auction by Christies in 1961.

The British Museum has 12 objects from the Epstein collection – 5 from Africa, 5 items are from Melanesia (4 carved house boards from New Caledonia and a human wood figure from West Papua) - all purchased at Christies.
His name is recorded in the P&D visitors' book on 20, 26 July 1908, and address given as 72 Cheyne Walk

Bibliography

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Ezio Bassani and Malcolm McLeod, 'Jacob Epstein Collector', Associazione Poro, Milan, 1989
Autobiography, Let There Be Sculpture (1940)
Epstein: An Autobiography (1955)
Who's Who 1957