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Jacob Epstein, British, 1880-1959
Title: Second Portrait of George Bernard Shaw
Date: 1934
Medium: Bronze with green patina
45 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 2017
Object Number: NGI.2017.50
DescriptionGeorge Bernard Shaw played an instrumental role in the development of both the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland, and the career of Jacob Epstein. It was through Shaw (courtesy of a letter of introduction from Rodin) that Epstein made contact in 1905 with the New English Art Club and its circle in London. His association with that group led to several key commissions, which in turn allowed him to establish himself as one of the most sought-after portrait sculptor in Britain.
Espstein later recalled that Shaw had said that he only agree to sit for the artist if the work was a commission. Despite Shaw's consistent championing of Epstein, he was not heavily impressed. Of Shaw's response to the sculptor's first sculpture of him (which presents him with bare shoulders), Epstein wrote in his authobiography 'Let there be Sculpture' (1942): "Shaw was puzzled by the bust of himslef and often looked at it and tried to make it out. He believed that I had made a kind of primitive barbarian of him, something altogether uncivilized and really a projection of myself, rather than of him. I never tried to explain the bust to him, and I think there are in it elements so subtle that they would be difficult to explain".
ProvenancePurchased, Piano Nobile Gallery, London, 2017