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Sir Jacob Epstein
1880-1959
STUDY FOR 'ONE OF THE HUNDRED PILLARS OF THE SECRET TEMPLE'
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 21,600 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
29
Sir Jacob Epstein
1880-1959
STUDY FOR 'ONE OF THE HUNDRED PILLARS OF THE SECRET TEMPLE'
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 21,600 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Sir Jacob Epstein
1880-1959
1880-1959
STUDY FOR 'ONE OF THE HUNDRED PILLARS OF THE SECRET TEMPLE'

Provenance

The Artist
His Estate, until 1972
Private Collection, London
James Hyman Fine Art, London
Private Collection, UK

Exhibited

London, Anthony d’Offay Gallery, Jacob Epstein: The Rock Drill Period, October – November 1973, no.1, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p.21;
London, Hayward Gallery, Vorticism and its Allies, 1974 (get months) no.91, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p.43;
Leeds City Art Gallery, Jacob Epstein: Sculpture and Drawings, April – June 1987, no.41, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p.146 (and travelling to London, Whitechapel Art Gallery);
New York, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, British Modernist Art 1905-1930, November 1987 – December 1988, no.55, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p.64;
Wolfsburg, Kunstmuseum, From Blast to Freeze: British Art in the 20th Century, 14th September 2002 – 19th January 2003, unnumbered catalogue, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, pl.11 (and touring to Les Abattoirs, Toulouse);
London, Ben Uri Gallery, Embracing the Exotic: Jacob Epstein and Dora Gordine, January – March 2006, no.8, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, p.20 and frontispiece.

Literature

Richard Cork, Vorticism and Abstract Art in the First Machine Age, Gordon Fraser Gallery, London, 1976, p.117, illustrated;
Richard Cork, Art Beyond the Gallery in Early Twentieth Century England, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1985, p.95, illustrated;
Richard Cork, ‘The Emancipation of Modern British Sculpture’, in Susan Compton (ed.), British Art in the 20th Century: The Modern Movement, Prestel-Verlag, Munich and Royal Academy, London, 1987, p.33, illustrated, fig.3 p.33;
Richard Cork, Jacob Epstein, Tate Publishing, London, 1999, pp.18-19, illustrated p.19.

Catalogue Note

This remarkable drawing appears to be the only surviving work by the artist relating to the collaboration between Epstein and his friend Eric Gill to create an immense sculptural temple on a site in the grounds of Asheham House, Sussex (the house was to be the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf from 1911–1919, and was demolished in 1995). As Gill wrote to William Rothenstein in September 1910, ‘Epstein and I have got a great scheme of doing some colossal figures together (as a contribution to the world), a sort of twentieth century Stonehenge’, and clearly the idea excited the interest of their circle. In a contemporary letter to Gill, Augustus John declared ‘…the temple must be built. People will take to their heels at the sight of so stupendous a thing walking about in daylight, but they must be overtaken with giant strides.’ (Letter from John to Gill, published in Robert Speaight, The Life of Eric Gill, London 1966, p.49). This drawing for what seems to have been intended as a monumental column has an overt erotic tone, and relates to Epstein’s own interest in Indian temple sculpture. The unbridled imagery, echoed in Gill’s contemporary Ecstacy relief (Collection Tate) and the lost Votes for Women, would have scandalized the public of pre-WWI England to an almost unimagineable extent, both in its celebration of sexual pleasure and its championing of cultural inspiration far outside the Hellenic and Classical models that were held to be the widely considered norm, and one can hardly comprehend the outcry that would have ensued had the project been carried to fruition. The drawing also holds key importance in its inclusion of a border of heavily stylised geometric animal forms which pre-figure the imagery that Epstein was to develop into sculptural fruition in his carvings of 1913-1914. These forms draw on African sources, notably the Fang figures that Epstein had in his own collection, and which would ultimately lead the artist to his early masterpiece, The Rock Drill, now known only in the reconstruction of the lost original in the collection of Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.    

20th Century British Art

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