Jacob Epstein (Jacob Epstein)

Jacob Epstein

Jacob Epstein was born in New York City of Jewish parents. His ambition was to become a painter, and he began by sketching the characters of the ghetto. Unfortunately, he had to abandon this because of his poor eyesight, and decided to become a sculptor instead. In 1902, he moved to Paris in order to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Three years after that, he re-located to London. His first important commission was to design eighteen figures, influenced by the writings of Walt Whitman, for the offices of the British Medical Association (now the Zimbabwean High Commission) in the Strand. These aroused furious controversy and there was a campaign to have them torn down. They were, in fact, removed in 1937, allegedly because they had become unsafe, although traces remain. In 1909, he sculpted the monument on Oscar Wilde’s grave in Pere Lachaise in Paris, which was every bit as contentious as the Strand Statues. He is also noted for the bas-relief of Rima in Hyde Park, which forms part of the bird-sanctuary memorial to W.H. Hudson, and for the colossal figures of Night and Day at Broadway House in Westminster. More generally appreciated were his series of bronze portrait busts of such eminent figures as Conrad, Einstein, Admiral Fisher, and Shaw. Jacob Epstein became a naturalised British subject and was knighted in 1954. His last work was “St. Michael and the Devil” on Sir Basil Spence’s new Coventry Cathedral, which had to be re-built following its destruction in the War.   (bio by: Iain MacFarlaine)


  • November, 10, 1880


  • August, 08, 1959


  • Putney Vale Cemetery and Crematorium
  • England

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