Ben Uri collection

Portrait of Jacob Epstein

Artist information

Name Jacob Kramer (1892-1962)

Born Klintsy, Russia

Died Leeds, England

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A Russian-Jewish immigrant, Kramer arrived in Britain in 1900. He studied at Leeds School of Art and briefly at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, supported by Michael Sadler, modernist collector and Vice Chancellor of Leeds University, and the Jewish Education Aid Society. His Slade associates included ‘Whitechapel Boys’ Mark Gertler and David Bomberg, with whom he exhibited in 1914 as part of the ‘Jewish Section’ in a review of modern movements at the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

During the First World War he spent a short time as a regimental librarian, a post facilitated by Herbert Read.

Kramer exhibited regularly in Ben Uri's Annual Exhibition of Works by Jewish Artists from 1935–50), but, following a crisis of confidence, he returned north, eventually becoming known for his characteristic portraits of Leeds locals and notable visitors. A retrospective was held at Leeds Art Gallery in 1960.

Object Details

Date 1930

Object type print

Medium lithograph

Materials and techniques lithography (technique)

Unframed 56 x 40 cm

Signed (lower right) 'Kramer'

Acquisition Presented by Dr Wendy Baron in memory of the late Hugh Baron

Accession number 2016-17

Display status not on display

Kramer had sat to sculptor Jacob Epstein for his bust in 1921, and Kramer's lithograph of Epstein is a reciprocal likeness. The two men had met shortly after Epstein's arrival in England and formed a lasting friendship. Kramer said of Epstein, 'If I couldn't be myself at all, I should want to be Epstein - for his bigness and fearlessness of thought. No matter what happens to him, or his work, he remains himself [...] The man is greater than his work. I'd like to be greater than my work so that my work would be all the greater'. (Yorkshire Post, 7.11.1931).


Jacob Kramer reassessed (London: Ben Uri Gallery, 1984).

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© Jacob Kramer estate

Related works

Bust of Jacob Kramer
by Jacob Epstein

Epstein, 'Remorse'
by Mark Wayner