Eric Gill (1882-1940) and his friend and collaborator Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) are considered two of the leading sculptors of the early 20th century. Their perversion-hidden-in-plain sight works often shocked audiences. This was not only a result of their often-explicit sexual content.
With Epstein, negative reviews of his work sometimes took on an anti-Semitic flavor. Epstein himself was reluctant to play that card and did not attribute the “average unfavorable criticism” of his work to antisemitism.
Over the front entrance of Broadcasting House (BBC) London stands Gill’s statue of “Prospero and Ariel,” taken from Shakespeare’s last play, “The Tempest.” Even though the statue has been on site for nearly a century, we notice that finding clear revealing photos of it online is obfuscated.
It was mired in controversy from the moment it was unveiled in 1933. The nude Ariel, or at least the size of his member, seemed quite oversized, and two mediators intervened to require a downsize to fit the young boy’s age of 10. An unrepentant Gill retorted that he had only followed the corporation’s request.
“I am only a servant of the BBC, and if a statue is placed under the responsibility of Sir John Reith and other directors, then it must be all right,” Gill said.
Elsewhere on the BBC building is this lesser-noticed work by Gill that shows a small child with his hand near a flutist’s exposed crotch.
Gill was also an Associate of the Royal Academy of Arts. Other works included “Madonna and Child” (1910), which English painter and art critic Roger Fry described in 1911 as a depiction of “pathetic animalism.”
However, Eric Gill’s personal diaries, published in 1989, revealed that he was a full-blown pederast who engaged in several extramarital affairs, incest with his two eldest teenage daughters, incestuous relationships with his sisters and sexual acts on his dog.
This aspect of Gill’s life was allegedly little known beyond his family and friends until the publication of the 1989 biography by Fiona MacCarthy. Gill’s daughter Petra, who was alive at the time of the MacCarthy biography, described her father as having “endless curiosity about sex” and that “we just took it for granted.”
Gill’s statue for the BBC was before the broadcaster was scandalized by its failure to even minimally vet its star employee Jimmy “666” Savile. With statues of colonizers and slavers coming down all over Britain, there is movement afoot to remove the Gill work.
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Rather than remove the pederast statue, I’d set up an organization of volunteers to give free tours that include the history of the statue, its artist, the history of the building and the history of the people who work there. And while the tours are at it, add Gill’s running buddy Sir Jacob Epstein to the mix.
Per Wikipedia, Epstein was a big believer in procreation — and with many women. Despite being married to and continuing to live with his first wife, Margaret, Epstein had a number of relationships with other women that brought him his five children: Peggy Jean (1918–2010), Theo (1924–1954), Kathleen (1926–2011), Esther (1929–1954) and Jackie (1934–2009). Margaret generally tolerated these relationships, even to the extent of raising his first and last children.
In 1921, Epstein began the longest of these relationships, with Kathleen Garman, one of the Garman sisters, mother of his three middle children, which continued until his death. Margaret “tolerated Epstein’s infidelities, allowed his models and lovers to live in the family home and raised Epstein’s first child, Peggy Jean, who was the daughter of Meum Lindsell, one of Epstein’s previous lovers, and his last, Jackie, whose mother was the painter Isabel Nicholas. Evidently, Margaret’s tolerance did not extend to Epstein’s relationship with Kathleen Garman, as in 1923 Margaret shot and wounded Kathleen in the shoulder.”
We lead off with Epstein’s creepy facade relief at 55 Broadway in New York City. Nothing to see here, move along.
On another façade at London Electric Railway HQ is robo pederasty.
Epstein, although a talented sculptor, had a fascination with shock value and especially with “dicks.” People in Liverpool nicknamed his nude male sculpture over the door of Lewis’ department store (1954–56) the “Dickie Lewis.”
The Archangel Lucifer, dick and all, now in Birmingham Museum.
This dick statue is on the second floor of the British Medical Association (BMA) headquarters at 429 The Strand, London. I suspect Epstein, although talented, really had the mentality and arrested development of a precocious 14 year old adolescent. In fact his dick works are a joke on the public chumps at large.
One of the most famous of Epstein’s early commissions is Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, “which was condemned as indecent and at one point was covered in tarpaulin by the French police.” More bizarre than obscene, but he had to slip that dick in.
Epstein’s “Scene from Childhood.” Hellish looking and not exactly what I remember. We aren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.
This statue in London is rather grotesque but shows a younger man down and at the mercy of “whatever.” Is this some kind of smack down? This is supposedly a war memorial.