Dimensions: 64 x 49 x 25 cm
Acquired at Bonhams in 2003 with the assistance of the Art Fund, V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Pauline and Daniel Auerbach, Morven and Michael Heller and anonymous donors
From his first public commission for the British Medical Association’s building in The Strand, Epstein’s career was always mired in controversy, partly because of the uninhibited sexuality of his figures and his lasting interest in the non-Western (and often mixed-race) model. However, his portraiture was always highly prized. Epstein’s head of Leeds-born painter Jacob Kramer captures his sitter’s famous nervous energy and restlessness and has been cited by Epstein scholar Evelyn Silber as ‘the portrait of one outstanding Jewish contributor to British modernism by another [which] sees both close to the peak of their creative energies.’ Epstein wrote to Kramer to encourage him to come to London to sit for the portrait in November 1920. There are also casts at the Tate and at Leeds City Art Gallery. 
Jacob Epstein was born in 1880 to relatively prosperous Polish-Jewish émigré parents, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He worked at a New York Bronze foundry and studied modelling at the Art Students’ league (1901-2), before sailing for Paris, where he studied for 18 months. In 1905 he moved to London and settled in Chelsea, received vital early backing from Jewish patrons, Alfred and Rudolf Kohnstamm, through his friendship with Wolmark. Between 1912 and 1914 he established important links with other ‘Whitechapel Boys’, particularly Bomberg and Gertler.
Born: 1880 New York, USA
Died: 1959 London, England