London, South Kensington
15 July 2009
Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)
First Portrait of Isabel
bronze with a brown patina
21 in. (53.3 cm.), high
Conceived in 1932.
Purchased from Lady Epstein in 1963.
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E. Silber, The Sculpture of Epstein, Oxford, 1987, p. 171, no. 221, another cast illustrated, as 'First Portrait of Isobel'.
Isabel Rawsthorne (1912-1992) was a powerful muse for both Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon. In the 1930s Giacometti sculpted bronze
busts of Isabel and she proved to be a major influence for his Grandes Figures. During the 1960s Isabel became a close companion of Bacon and he painted several portraits of her. In fact Bacon painted more small heads of Isabel than of anyone other than himself.
Rawsthorne was also a close friend of Michel Leiris and 'for a time the lover of the radical writer Georges Bataille' (see R. Calvocoressi, Francis Bacon: Portraits and Heads, Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland, p. 83). Her third husband was the composer Alan Rawsthorne.
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