Second Portrait of George Bernard Shaw (head) bronze with a light brown patina 44 cm. (17 1/4 in.) high (excluding base) Conceived in 1934
Provenance: Private Collection, U.S.A.
Literature: Jacob Epstein, Let there be sculpture, Michael Joseph, London, 1940, pp.99-101 (another cast ill.) Jacob Epstein, Epstein: An Autobiography, Hulton, London, 1955, pp.81-3 (another cast ill.) Richard Buckle, Jacob Epstein Sculptor, Faber & Faber, London, 1963, pl.323, pp.210-11 (another cast ill.b&w)
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was a lifelong supporter and staunch defender of Epstein's work. This was proved when, as a struggling artist new to London in 1905, the future Nobel Prize winner recommended him to galleries and championed early work.
By the 1920s Epstein was widely regarded as one of Britain's leading avant-garde sculptors, despite his refusal to flatter his ever-patient sitters. This commitment to verisimilitude was admired by Shaw and it is this candid, expressive style that brings the present example alive and illustrates the celebrated writer's personality.
According to the artist 'Shaw sat on condition that I was commissioned to do the work...Shaw sat with exemplary patience and even eagerness. He walked to my studio every day, and was punctual and conscientious. He wisecracked of course. In matters of Art he aired definite opinions, mostly wrong' (Richard Buckle, pp.210-1).