The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 25, 2016

August 25, 2010

"On the morning of August 25, 2010, in the biggest operation that Berlin’s art-fraud division has ever conducted, police teams swept across Germany."

This begins a Vanity Fair article about Wolfgang Beltracchi, and the means by which a notorious art forger was sent to prison. Art forgery demands a set of skills which are themselves rare, and a certain genius. In Beltracchi's case:

In French and German gallery exposition catalogues dating from the 1910s and 1920s, he searched for paintings considered forever lost, ones whose images had never been replicated and reprinted. Since only titles existed, Beltracchi would produce counterfeits according to the title......But he also understood that artworks were judged on their provenance; he needed to ensure that each painting’s backstory and history of ownership checked out.

His solution? Inventing the art collection of the Cologne factory owner Werner Jägers, the grandfather of his wife. He stamped Sammlung Werner Jaeger Koeln (“Collection of Werner Jägers”) on the backs of his paintings. He also affixed forged collection stamps from Galerie Flechtheim, one of the most important Modernist dealers during the Weimar period....

Beltracchi even photographed his wife posing as her grandmother, with period furniture and his forgeries hanging on the wall, since an archival photograph is the Holy Grail of provenance documentation. Increasingly, the Sammlung Werner Jägers Koeln stamp was enough to validate any work on the German art market.

Our forger finally confessed to 14 specific works faked, but he also said he had done a lot more. One canvas he did and sold as the work of Max Pechstein, was "Reclining Nude with Cat".

Beltracchi and his wife wound up in prison, but the setting was such that he was free to leave during the daytime and go to a job. After a few years they were back together, and if I recall, left to live on an island. Books and films have resulted from his story, though the real story seems to be that he is not sorry at all.

In conclusion we have this scary perspective from art experts:

At the center of every major forgery scandal of the last century stands someone... who not only could produce a very convincing fake, but who also understood how to corrupt the very systems of knowledge the art world uses to determine attributions and authenticity.

August 24, 2016

August 24, 1899

Jorge Luis Borges, (August 24, 1899 to June 14, 1986) is arguably the greatest writer of the 20th century. His poem titled "The Golem" gives credence to this position.

There was something too untoward in the Golem
for at his approach the rabbi's cat
would hide. (This cat does not appear in Scholem
but I intuit it across all these years.)

Edna Aizenberg (Borges and His Successors: The Borgesian Impact on Literature and the Arts (1990)) glossea this text this way:

The rabbi's cat -- the harmlessness of the familiar-- strolls into the grave seriousness of the library. Its presence evokes the irony of detail, perhaps also animality's irreducible resistance to culture, like that of Baudelaire's cats.

Of course that's not it. What we have in "The Golem" is an analysis of the interface between the material and the cerebral.

Borges said: "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library". He died before knowing of this heaven on earth we call the web.

August 23, 2016

August 23, 1905

A review of a biography of Constant Lambert (August 23, 1905 to August 21, 1951) begins:

We owe Constant Lambert ...a huge amount, and the flashes of brilliance that survive from his short life only suggest the energy with which he established the possibilities for English culture. What we remember about this extraordinary man are some delightful pieces of music, especially
The Rio Grande; the funniest and most cultivated book about contemporary music ever written, Music Ho!; and a few surviving recordings of his work as a conductor.

It continues along these lines:

Lambert was near to being a child prodigy. Barely out of school, he was commissioned by Diaghilev to write a score for the Ballets Russes, though the relationship didn’t prosper; according to Osbert Sitwell, whenever a gap emerged later, Diaghilev would moan ‘Sûrtout — pas de Lambert’. But Lambert was soon established in London as a brilliant, cosmopolitan figure...

After his death, many of his friends tried to pin down the louche charm of his conversation, his broad interests and his wit. Best of all are two portraits by his friend Anthony Powell — the first as the character Hugh Moreland in A Dance to the Music of Time, the second under his own name in Powell’s memoirs.

As conductor of the Sadler's Wells ballet company (later the Royal Ballet) the pressures on Lambert were more than musical perfection:

Astonishingly, in May 1940, Sadler’s Wells was ordered to tour Belgium and the Netherlands to raise morale, and found itself being ‘received with almost heartbreaking enthusiasm’ as the German invasion was poised to strike. The last performance of the tour, in Arnhem, was of Façade, that relic of camp 1920s fantasy. Afterwards, de Valois and the star, Margot Fonteyn, were presented with bouquets by an 11-year-old member of the Arnhem ballet class, later known as Audrey Hepburn. They left Arnhem at one in the morning and the Germans entered two hours later.

The reviewer notes:

Lambert has been surprisingly well served by biographers, including the triple portrait by Andrew Motion that includes Constant’s father, George (a painter) and his son, Kit (manager of the Who).

Where Lloyd
[the author of the biography] seems less at home is in the rackety world of Lambert’s drinking friends and his complicated love life. .... One feels as though one’s observing Lambert’s long and tempestuous affair with Margot Fonteyn from a remote distance, and at the end of the book one gets more of a sense of hearing Lambert conduct Tchaikovsky than of what it felt like to be married to him, or to finish a bottle of whisky in his company while arguing over Stravinsky’s merits.

Our quotes, lightly rearranged, are from Philip Hensher's review of Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande, (2014) by Stephen Lloyd.

Another memoirist, Humphrey Searle, remembers "Constant was a great cat-lover." Which sheds some light on this note Henscher put in his review:

The one thing no biographer can explain is that a number of Lambert’s friends reported posthumous, ghostly interventions in their lives: Powell was apparently rung up by him after his death, and an unexplained black cat appeared at a concert performance of ...[Lambert's] Eight Poems by Li Po, sitting patiently on the stage during the music and leaving afterwards, never to be seen again. 

August 22, 2016

August 22, 1920

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 to June 5, 2012) is blurbed thusly by google books:

....born in Waukegan, Illinois ..... At the age of fifteen, he started submitting short stories to national magazines. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 600 stories, poems, essays, plays, films, television plays, radio, music, and comic books. His books include The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Bradbury Speaks. He won numerous awards for his works including a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1977, the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted 65 of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. The film The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit was written by Ray Bradbury and was based on his story The Magic White Suit. He was the idea consultant and wrote the basic scenario for the United States pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair, as well as being an imagineer for Walt Disney Enterprises, where he designed the Spaceship Earth exhibition at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. He died after a long illness on June 5, 2012 at the age of 91.

We all think we know who Bradbury is, but I didn't know all the stuff above. Or that he published a book of poetry: Death Has Lost Its Charm for Me (1987). 

And of multiple poems within, about cats, we excerpt, "My cat has swallowed a bumblebee."

My cat has swallowed a bumblebee
He sounds like a golden summer hive
Each time he purrs, the air's alive.
His tuna breath is a symphony
From a honeycomb where Vivaldi bees
Weave a tapestry that is molten gold.


So this thumbnail photo is not surprising.

August 21, 2016

August 21, 1907

William Joseph Furness (December 12, 1869 to January 17, 1911) died young in a dreadful accident: he accidentally reversed his car into an elevator shaft. His marriage dating from August 21, 1907, to Harriet Vreeland, "the well-known painter of cats", was quite possibly quite happy. They shared an enthusiasm for photography.

Here is an example of her work. She provided some photographs for a book by Lee Saunders Crandall,  Pets and how to Care for Them (1921)


"Photograph by H. V. Fumess". I assume she just did the bottom one, but it is a nicely selected comparison: "European Wild Cat (above) Domestic Striped Tabby Cat (below)."

Harriet Furness died July 4, 1949.

August 20, 2016

August 20, 1939

According to the 1907 edition of Who's Who, Agnes Giberne (November 19, 1845 to August 20, 1939) was the author of:

....Scientific works and tales, etc.; d. of late Major Charles Giberue and Lydia Mary Wilson. [Major Charles Giberne was directly descended from "the noble Jean de Giberne,' who in 1553 was Seigneur de Gibertain... in Languedoc, head of "une noble et ancienne famille." Jean Rene de Giberne migrated to England late in the 17th century, and all other branches of the family died out.] b. Ahmednugger, India. Educ.: home; literary tastes from mother: scientific from father. Began to scribble stories at seven years old; began to publish children's stories at seventeen; did not put name on title-page till some years later; began to write on scientific subjects, 1880. Publications: The Curate's Home,...; Aimee; Coulyng Castle; Sweetbriar; Duties and Duties; Tim Teddington's Dream; Life Tangles, etc.; Sun, Moon, and Stars; Father Amur; Starry Skies; Among the Stars; The World's Foundations; The Ocean of Air; Radiant Suns; Miss Devereux, Spinster, 1891;....

The Lost Found; Or Brunhild’s Trials (1876) is one of her books. This scene shows one twelve year old girl blackmailing another.

A sickly orphan girl, Brunhild, lives with her aunt who keeps a shop. Brunhild does not have a happy childhood. However, she has one thing that she really loves – her cat Muffy. This brings temptations when someone threatens to take the cat away.
from a blurb.

Brunhild was scarcely over twelve when the first joy of her life dawned upon her, a joy centring in nothing more nor less than the possession of a certain grey kitten. She found the little kitten in an almost dying condition one snowy winter's eve, and carried it home, pitying its helpless condition. Poor little lonely waif, cast forth to die,—how like in its desolation to the motherless Brunhild herself! Nobody seemed to want it, or care for it, and Brunhild's heart clung to the forsaken animal, as she pleaded earnestly for permission to keep it as her own. Happily, Kathleen took no fancy to the miserable bedraggled creature, and Mrs. Holdsworth's cat having recently died, she made no objection to its being replaced.

So the matter was settled, the kitten being distinctly avowed as Brunhild's peculiar property. Gladly, for the securing of her possession, did she yield up a portion of her morning and evening supply of milk. This was Mrs. Holdsworth's invariable plan. If the children kept pets, they must feed them, she declared. She couldn't afford to do anything of the sort. No exception was made...

....It proved to be a pet worth securing. Nobody came forward to claim it as lost property, and no mention of a vanished kitten reached the ears of any in the household. Yet, as the months passed, the little grey cat grew into that which no owner would carelessly have flung away. To Brunhild's partial eyes the soft fur had from the first been unusually thick and long for so tiny an animal, but it became rapidly thicker and longer, till pussy's coat hung halfway to the ground, and the splendid grey tail, with its black markings, resembled a fox's brush. Such a beauty had never been seen in the village before, and Brunhild's cat was the wonder of the neighbours.

What an amazing glimpse of Victorian sentimentality we get with this book. The heroine is an orphan and gets thrown out of her home with her aunt, because Brunhild is being blackmailed by another teenager who pretends the cat really belongs elsewhere and will be taken from her, unless Brunhild steals money from her aunt to buy the other child's silence. Then that other child steals the cat anyway and the other child's mother sells the cat on. Brunhild is sickly but Patty, the other child, falls ill and actually dies, but not before telling this minister's daughter who hopes to bring Brunhild to seeing God's mercy, where the cat is. Katherine is only sixteen herself, but succeeds in obtaining the cat back for Brunhild, converting Brunhild to a grateful Christianity, and when Brunhild is recovered enough, finds her a home with other orphans being cared for by an old lady. A place where she is loved and can have the cat.

Agnes Giberne wrote in other genres also.

Sun, Moon and Stars: Astronomy for Beginners
(1879), sold well on both sides of the Atlantic.

And she wrote a biography: A Lady of England : the life and letters of Charlotte Maria Tucker (1895.)

All told we have a portrait of 19th century England which seems stamped with family values, but the impression is oddly askew.

August 19, 2016

August 19, 1959

Jason Epstein, (November 10, 1880 to 19 August 19, 1959), the American born British sculptor, is not famous for his cat sculptures. This example in bronze is very nice though.

Let's look at his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography biography:

....Both [his] parents were from Orthodox Jewish families and had immigrated to the United States from Augustow, Poland, his father changing his name from Jarogenski or Jarudzinski to Epstein.

Epstein's formal education ...ended when he was thirteen, but he attended classes and events organized by the settlement house movement at the nearby Neighbourhood Guild and Education Alliance. There he was influenced by the literature and ideas introduced by James Kirk Paulding, and mixed in socialist-anarchist political and literary circles. During 1893-8 he attended classes at the Art Students' League. Increasingly he rejected the rigorous Orthodox observance of his upbringing. His early drawings were inspired by the lively multi-ethnic communities round him in the Lower East Side, especially the Jewish community. He organized a local artists' exhibition at the Hebrew Institute during 1898 and was emerging as the leading figure in a nascent group of Jewish New York artists. The journalist Hutchins Hapgood commissioned him to carry out most of the illustrations for his pioneering book about the Lower East Side, The Spirit of the Ghetto (1902). However, about 1899-1900, following a winter spent with his Russian artist friend, Bernard Gussow, in an isolated community at Greenwood Lake, New Jersey, when they worked at ice cutting, he turned to sculpture. During 1901-2 he got a job in a bronze foundry and attended an Art Students' League class for sculptors' assistants run by George Grey Barnard, before leaving to study in Paris in September 1902....
[and then in] London before the war...

In 1905 Epstein moved to London, encouraged by his experience of the London museums during a short visit in 1904, and by a Scotswoman, Margaret Dunlop (1873-1947), at that time Mrs Thomas Williams, whom he married in November 1906. They lived first at 219 Stanhope Street, Regent's Park, then at Stamford Street Studios in Fulham where they remained until 1908. The early years were extremely difficult but a brief visit to New York in 1905 failed to lure him home. In December 1910 he became a naturalized British citizen.

A letter of introduction from Rodin to George Bernard Shaw led to contacts within the New English Art Club circle, and thence to portrait commissions which quickly established Epstein's reputation as a penetrating observer and brilliant modeller. His Euphemia Lamb (bronze, 1908,...) paid homage to idealized early Renaissance prototypes but Romilly John (bronze, 1907, ...), Bust of Nan (bronze, 1909, Tate collection), and Lady Gregory (bronze, 1910, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, and Leeds City Art Gallery) fused searching realism with spontaneous expression. From 1911 he exhibited at the National Portrait Society and his portraits were the first and, for years, the only works to enter public collections.

Epstein leapt to public prominence in 1908 through the controversy, fomented by an anonymous article in the Evening Standard (19 June 1908), over his carvings on the facade of Charles Holden's British Medical Association building in the Strand in London. In the eighteen figures representing the ages of man and woman he fulfilled the architect's hopes for 'a programme as wide in scope as Whitman' ...; austerely classical-realist in style, they nevertheless challenged public taste by frank depictions of nudity and pregnancy. At about this time Epstein was proposed by Havard Thomas for membership of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, but was rejected. His second public commission, the tomb of Oscar Wilde (1909-12) for Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris, was a radical departure in style and technique; he abandoned the conventional standing figure he had prepared in favour of a directly carved, winged male figure inspired by Assyrian sculpture in the British Museum.

Epstein's new-found enthusiasms for non-European art forms and for direct carving were shared by Eric Gill, with whom he developed a close relationship between 1910 and 1912. They worked collaboratively and on parallel themes; carvings in Hoptonwood stone, such as Rom (1910, National Museum and Gallery of Wales, Cardiff) and the voluptuous Indian-inspired Maternity (1910, Leeds City Art Gallery), constituted a primitivistic alternative to the classical traditions still dominant in British sculpture. His friendship with Gill ended acrimoniously after the failure of their attempt to set up at Asheham House, Sussex, an artistic commune where they planned to create and place sculptures which would express the primitive life-force in humanity, in a sort of modern Stonehenge.

The critical success enjoyed by the Oscar Wilde tomb when it was exhibited in Epstein's Cheyne Walk studio in June 1912 contrasted with the official opposition to its explicit nudity once installation began in Paris. There he came into contact with the Parisian avant-garde and especially with Modigliani and Brancusi, whose sculpture, also directly carved, epitomized a far more radical approach to form. He also discovered a lifelong passion for African and Oceanic sculpture, becoming one of the first British-based artists to collect 'primitive art'.

During 1913-15 Epstein became more closely involved with the avant-garde circle around Wyndham Lewis,... Working from a secluded cottage at Pett Level, near Hastings, Sussex, and in a garage in Lamb's Conduit Street, London, he produced a series of drawings and carvings which combined formal lucidity with sexually explicit themes of procreation, pregnancy, and birth. His Flenite Figures in serpentine (1913,)... copulating Doves (marble, 1913-15, ..), and versions of Venus (marble, 1913-15,...) established him as the leading British avant-garde sculptor. His first one-man show took place at the Twenty-One Gallery, London, in December 1913 and in 1914 he was a founder member of the London Group, widely credited with suggesting its name. A number of his portraits and carvings were purchased by the American collector John Quinn.

Despite his close friendship with the philosopher T. E. Hulme, who saw in his increasingly precise abstracted forms the first signs of a distinctively modern art, and his association with Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Epstein resisted affiliation with the vorticist group. ...

In 1916, under suspicion at Pett Level because of their foreign surname, accents, and bohemian lifestyle, the Epsteins returned to London, moving to 23 Guilford Street, Bloomsbury. Epstein campaigned unsuccessfully to be appointed a war artist, producing several distinguished portraits, including Admiral Lord Fisher (bronze, 1915), The Tin Hat (bronze, 1916), and Sergeant Hunter V. C. (1918-19)...characterized by the broken, impasted surface which was to become a hallmark of his style. He was finally conscripted in autumn 1917 as a private in the Jewish 38th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers just as his second one-man show, at the Leicester Galleries in London (henceforth his principal dealers), brought fame and a measure of critical and financial success. He was discharged in 1918 without leaving England, having suffered a breakdown, which probably accounts for the surprising dearth of war memorial commissions.

After the war Epstein retained his position as the leading modernist sculptor while becoming more isolated as a result of the deaths of Hulme and Gaudier-Brzeska, the dissolution of several pre-war groupings and friendships, notably with Augustus John, and of his own renewed commitment to modelled sculpture in the Western tradition. His notoriety led to his rejection as a candidate for the professorship of sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1924, while a damaging attack on his modelled portraiture by the influential Roger Fry, published in the New Statesman in 1924, weakened his reputation within the critical establishment.

During a visit to Italy in 1920 Epstein visited the Carrara quarries and considered working there, but he did not return to free-standing carved figures until 1929. His two architectural commissions during the 1920s-Rima (1924-5), the carved relief memorial to the naturalist and author W. H. Hudson, for the bird sanctuary in Hyde Park, and two monumental figure groups, Night and Day (1928-9), for Charles Holden's London Underground headquarters at St James's Park-were both surrounded by public controversy. .... Once unveiled, praise for the design and architectural qualities of the carvings was almost drowned out by public and media criticisms of their ugliness and primitivism. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s Epstein and his large carvings became a frequent butt of cartoons and popular rhymes, some of which were blatantly antisemitic, and the works were vandalized.

....... Despite Fry's criticism his portraits were widely acclaimed and he attracted numerous commissions. During a visit to the United States in 1927 to coincide with his one-man show at the Ferargil Gallery, New York, he received several portrait commissions, notably that of Paul Robeson .... It became fashionable for wealthy foreign visitors to visit his studio and commission a portrait. His sitters ranged ...
[included] the eminent-R. B. Cunninghame Graham (1923), Elsa Lanchester (1924), Joseph Conrad (1924), Sibyl Thorndyke (1925), Rabindranath Tagore (1926), Ramsay MacDonald (1926 and 1934), Albert Einstein (1933), Chaim Weizmann (1933), George Bernard Shaw (1934), Haile Selassie (1936)....

Epstein made numerous portraits of his family-his daughter Peggy Jean (b. 1918) and son Jackie (b. 1934). Epstein and his wife remained childless but brought up as their own his children by liaisons with Dorothy (Meum) Lindsell-Stewart (1895-1957), and Isabel Nicholas (1912-1992). Another frequent model was Kathleen Esther Garman (1901-1979), daughter of Walter Chancellor Garman, surgeon; they met in 1921 and formed a lasting relationship, eventually having four children-Theo (1924-1954), Kitty (1926-2011), Esther (1929-1954), and a baby who died in infancy.

Epstein's increasing income enabled him to rent a cottage in Loughton, Essex, as a secluded place to work and, in 1928, to move from Guilford Street to 18 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington, which remained his home for the rest of his life and which housed the ever expanding mass of his own works and of his sculpture collection. At his 'Sunday teas' a wide cross-section of friends, sitters, models, musicians, and visitors could be encountered. These included Matthew Smith, who became a lifelong friend; the ballet critic Arnold Haskell, whose The Sculptor Speaks (1931) was based on numerous visits and interviews; and the young Henry Moore, whose early work Epstein supported, and for whose one-man show at the Leicester Galleries in 1931 the older artist wrote the catalogue introduction.

During the 1930s, probably stimulated by the renewed interest of Moore and his contemporaries in direct carving and increasingly stung by critics who not only considered carving superior to modelling but also considered him a modeller rather than a carver, Epstein embarked on a succession of large free-standing sculptures on symbolic themes: Genesis (marble, 1929-30, ...), Primeval Gods, carved on the reverse of his 1910 Sun God relief ... Behold the Man (Subiaco stone, 1934-5, Coventry Cathedral ruins), Consummatum est (alabaster, 1936, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh), Adam (alabaster, 1938-9, Harewood House, Yorkshire), and Jacob and the Angel (alabaster, 1940-41, Tate collection). These uncommissioned works, on the one hand perpetuating the nineteenth-century monumental tradition and on the other challenging traditional interpretations of religious and sexually charged themes, were increasingly at odds with the more abstract modernist mainstream while attracting sensationalized press treatment. ....Epstein's carving was supported by the continuing success of his portraits and by the ready market for his watercolours of flowers and landscapes. Two other watercolour projects, Old Testament subjects exhibited in 1932, and illustrations for Baudelaire's Fleurs du mal in 1938, were less well received. ....

Epstein never became directly engaged in politics but he supported the Artists' International Association's efforts on behalf of the Spanish Republican cause, and he acted as spokesperson for the London Group in urging artists to refuse co-operation with a Nazi attempt to organize an exhibition of British art (excluding Jewish artists) in Berlin in 1937. During the Second World War he carried out portrait commissions for the War Artists' Advisory Committee...

After the Second World War Epstein finally began to receive the public recognition he craved; his last major carving, Lazarus (Hoptonwood stone, 1948) was exhibited at Battersea Park as part of the Festival of Britain (1951) and was purchased for the chapel of New College, Oxford, and Madonna and Child (lead, 1950-52) for the convent of the Holy Child Jesus, Cavendish Square, London, received unprecedented critical and public acclaim. He had ceased to be an enfant terrible and had become a grand old man trusted to handle religious and symbolic themes with dignity and conviction. Ignoring his failing health and pushing aside grief at the tragic deaths of two of his children, he completed eight large public commissions during his last decade, as well as many commissioned portraits...St Michael and the Devil
[was] for the new Coventry Cathedral (bronze, 1956-8); and the Bowater House group,...[was] completed on the day he died. ....

Apart from an honorary doctorate from Aberdeen in 1938, Epstein had received no public honours until, in 1953, he was made an honorary DCL at Oxford, and in 1954 was knighted. He became a founder member of the Society of Portrait Sculptors in 1953, but rejected as coming much too late the membership of the Royal Society of British Sculptors finally offered in 1954. He and Kathleen Garman married on 27 June 1955.

Epstein .... died of a heart attack at his home at Hyde Park Gate on 19 August 1959. He was survived by his second wife.... His collection of primitive sculpture, the best in Britain, was exhibited by the Arts Council in 1960 before being dispersed to public and private collections.

Early portraits,
[of the artist] such as the etchings by Augustus John and Francis Dodd, and Epstein's own self-portrait in red chalk ...c.1901, ... show an attractively Romantic bohemian figure. His later bronze self-portraits ... and numerous photographic studies by Geoffrey Ireland, Yousuf Karsh, and others show a sturdy, powerful figure and a face marked by tribulation and intense concentration. Despite his formidable presence and occasional outbursts, his usual manner was quiet and courteous and his conversation wide-ranging and knowledgeable, though he had little patience with art pretence of any kind and expressed decisive, often derisive, views on the contemporary art scene. He never lost his New York accent nor did he ever entirely relinquish a bohemian approach, especially in financial matters which caused him frequent anxiety. As a sculptor he worked alone; his only assistants were plaster moulders and he never had the opportunity to teach. Although he had no immediate followers, his modelling technique has influenced later portrait sculptors. At times he seemed to relish and court his position as an outsider-Henry Moore's tribute was that 'Epstein took the brickbats for modern art' ....but under a show of resilience manifest in his work, he was deeply wounded by critical marginalization and attacks on his work. In recent years his reputation as a pioneer modernist, direct carver, and collector-one of the leading British sculptors of the twentieth century-has been more widely recognized.....

His autobiography , Let there be sculpture: an autobiography (1940), does not mention cats.