Ben Uri collection

Professor Samuel Alexander O.M.

Artist information

Name Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)

Born New York, USA

Died London, England

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Russian-Polish Jewish émigré Jacob Epstein was raised in Manhattan’s multicultural Lower East Side and settled in London in 1905. A champion of direct carving, his controversial public commissions including the British Medical Association building façade (1907−08) in London and Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris (1911), challenged prevailing notions of sexuality and beauty and favoured the non-European model. His portrait heads, however, were always in demand. Epstein was only finally accepted by the establishment five years before his death when he was knighted in 1954.

Epstein was a noted Patron of the Society from 1936–37. He first exhibited in the Opening of the Ben Uri Jewish Art Gallery and an Exhibition of Works by Jewish Artists at Woburn House in 1934. Ben Uri subsequently held a number of retrospectives including an Exhibition of Bronzes in 1959; a Centenary Exhibition in 1980; and Embracing the Exotic: Jacob Epstein and Dora Gordine in 2006. A special Epstein day tour around London led by Richard Cork was also held on 19 August 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of the artist’s death.

Object Details

Date 1924

Object type sculpture

Medium bronze

Materials and techniques bronze (medium)

Dimensions 51 x 57 x 37 cm

Acquisition gift from Mosheh Oved

Accession number 1987-89

Display status not on display

Samuel Alexander OM, FBA (1859 – 1938) was an Australian-born British philosopher and the first Jewish fellow of an Oxbridge college. He sat to Epstein for his bust in 1924 and it was cast in an edition of 2. This, the first cast, was presented by Moshe Oved to the Ben Uri and the second was presented in 1925 to the University of Manchester, where Alexander held his Professorship at Owens College.

Selected exhibition history

1980 Epstein Centenary 1980: Bronzes, Drawings and Watercolours

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© Jacob Epstein estate