Sir Jacob Epstein
Bronze with a rich dark brown patina
Height: 18 inches (46 cm)
Conceived in 1943 and cast within the artist's lifetime
The present work is a bronze bust of American-born Yehudi Menuhin, widely considered as one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. Menuhin recalled in his autobiography, Unfinished Journey, that on his return from Eastern Europe “…with only a couple of sittings to complete the business, I was told that the cat had got into the studio one night and overturned Epstein's handiwork onto the floor, reducing my features to an unhappy pancake ... A second head was rapidly modelled and cast, and is now in my London house”.
Sir Jacob Epstein and Yehudi Menuhin with his bust, 1945, Central Press Photos, Foyle Menuhin Archive
In his first post-WWII exhibition with the Leicester Galleries, Epstein took the unusual decision to show just two bronzes to accompany a selection of paintings – the monumental bronze archangel Lucifer (gifted to Birmingham Art Gallery) and a cast of Yehudi Menuhin.
The plaster version of this work is in the collection of the Jewish Museum, New York. A bronze cast is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.