Whilst all aspects of Epstein’s work now command their deserved respect and admiration, the commissioning of this sculpture of Churchill marked an important landmark in the sculptor’s career: previously an artistic outsider, the task of creating a portrait of such an eminent international figure symbolised Epstein’s own significant reputation. The present work was commissioned by the War Artist's Advisory Committee, and executed in November 1946, shortly following Churchill’s first period in office as Prime Minister. Churchill gave Epstein six sittings for this portrait, usually dictating to secretaries whilst doing so, three of which took place whilst the two fellow artists lived opposite each other at Hyde Park Gate, London. Epstein recalled that:
'The Ministry of Information were naturally eager for me to work from Churchill but the opportunity did not come up until after the war when he was living opposite me. He arrived at my studio complete with secretary, and a plain clothes man who planted himself at the door intending to remain on guard throughout the sitting. I offered this gentleman a chair whereupon Churchill abruptly dismissed him. Lighting his cigar, with his secretary seated behind me for dictation, we were all set for a fair start. After an hour this secretary was dismissed and a second appeared for further dictation to the accompaniment of a second cigar. After three somewhat restless sittings Churchill decided to stay at Chartwell where he gave me three further sittings.' (Jacob Epstein quoted in Epstein: Memorial Exhibition, Edinburgh Festival Society, Edinburgh, 1961, un-numbered).
Created following Churchill’s revered leadership of the country during the Second World War, the richly modelled surface sympathetically conveys both the deeply affecting personal experiences of war – suggested by the rugged physicality of the facial features – yet also the sheer resolution of this great leader in the face of adversity. Churchill’s gaze is both steadfast and discerning – his eyes fixed on a subject slightly to the right of centre, perhaps upon Epstein or his secretary, seated behind the sculptor – the slightly raised eyebrow a reminder of his intelligence and wit. Epstein’s bust of Churchill undeniably embodies the tenacious and quite unique spirit of possibly his most famous subject, creating a captivating portrait.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale