An Indian Temple on the Strand

Rupert Richard Arrowsmith

in Modernism and the Museum

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593699
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595684 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

An Indian Temple on the Strand

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In this chapter it is revealed for the first time that London's earliest Modernist sculptures —the ornamental figures produced by Jacob Epstein in 1907–8 for the British Medical Association headquarters designed by Charles Holden —were derived entirely from Indian temple carvings studied at London's museums. Epstein's visits to see such material with Eric Gill are documented, and his collaboration with Holden examined in the light of both men's enthusiasm for Indian temples. Finally, the aesthetics and iconography of Epstein's figures are compared directly with the Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu works available to him. Their very clear similarities are discussed, and possible reasons are given for the failure of various well-known historians of Modernism to notice this. Finally, it is argued that the Ceylonese art historian Ananda Cooomaraswamy played a crucial role in this important sculptural revolution.

Keywords: Ananda Coomaraswamy; Jacob Epstein; Eric Gill; British Medical Association; BMA; sculptures; Indian temple; Modernism; architecture

Chapter.  10577 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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