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After his arrival in England, Epstein received vital backing from Jewish patrons, Alfred and Rudolf Kohnstamm. From his first public commission, Epstein’s career was mired in controversy, however, his portraiture was always highly prized. Epstein’s head of Leeds born painter Jacob Kramer captures his sitter’s famous restlessness. Epstein wrote to Kramer to encourage him to come to London to sit for the portrait after November 1920. He later recalled that Kramer ‘was a model who seemed to be on fire. He was extraordinarily nervous. Energy seemed to leap into his hair as he sat, and sometimes he would be shaken by queer trembling like ague. I would try to calm him so as to get on with the work’. Epstein scholar Evelyn Silber has cited the work as ‘the portrait of one outstanding Jewish contributor to British modernism by another [which] sees both close to the peak of their creative energies’.

Ben Uri Gallery & Museum



Jacob Kramer (1892–1962)






H 64 x W 49 x D 25 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired at Bonhams with the assistance of the Art Fund, Victoria and Albert Purchase Grant Fund, Pauline and Daniel Auerbach, Morven and Michael Heller and anonymous donors, 2003

Work type



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Ben Uri Gallery & Museum

108a Boundary Road, St John's Wood, London, Greater London NW8 0RH England

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