The President’s Art Buddy?

President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


To: The President of the United States of America

From: Jon Presco

President: Royal Rosamond Press

Dear Mr. President

Last night I began to compose a sarcastic letter to you in regards to the bust of Winston Churchill by the Bohemian Sculptor, Jacob Epstein. This morning I awoke with a change of heart when I finally heard the First Ladies plea to the world;

“For God’s sake, will someone be my husband’s best friend. I can’t be his best friend. I am a mother with a son to raise!”

I had an epiphany! You never had a best friend. I asked myself – Why? I deduced your inner mirror is on the blink. You may be incapable of introspection. This may be the result of being the richest kid on the block – and New York. However, it is coming out you do not like to read. How about contemplate a work of art? The world is now very curious as to where you gather your opinions. A best friend is often the source for most people. Best friends go off to a special place where they are beautiful and honest mirrors to one another. A best friend has permission to be critical with care, and tell you the truth, with love. To allow another human being to make up who you are, is the greatest experience one can own, especially when you are both artists. Did you know Winston Church is an artist. He loves the time he takes – to create! His empty canvases are telling! They are mirrors on the wall that bid us to look deeper, and behold the truth.

Here’s your letter I was composing in my mind before I went to bed….

Dear Mr. President;

Like millions of Americans, I hate your guts because you are so stupid! You know nothing about art, and, are unteachable. For this reason I highly suggest I be your Artist In Residence so I can protect the valuable works of art that belong to the American People, who with dignity and respect for the Office, let you borrow these works, for your edification and contemplation so that you will know what a Great Nation We are!

If you can put up an old army cot down in the basement next to the boiler, with kerosene lantern, I would know bliss. For when I heard you and your Generals yakking it up in the Oval Office, I would strap on my hunchback, go upstairs, and as your Brass mocks me, I will cover our works of art in plastic, so you pussy-grabbing freaks wont spill your booze all over our National Treasures – along with your precious Bodily Fluids.”

When I awoke, I was in a conciliatory mood, and a patriotic one. I owe it to my President, and my Fellow Americans to be serious – and try to make a difference in your life. I was going to bid you to contemplate this bust of Churchill, for it is a window into the soul of the British Endeavor, that was swayed by the rule of the most amazing Kings and Queens that ever walked the earth. Winston is closely related to Princess Diana Spencer, whose son will sit on the throne of England. King Henry Fitzempress Plantagenet is said to have built a labyrinth at Woodstock where he kept his paramour, Fair Rosamond, safe from his wife, Queen Eleanore. Henry was the most educated man in the world. He claimed he descends from the Kings of Troy, where Helen was taken after she was captured by Paris. Consider the beautiful women you have captured.

Henry’s grandfather had a zoo, and came close to ruling all of the western world, when his heir went down in the White Ship disaster. His daughter, Empress Matilda, made powerful moves on the Chessboard of the World, and thus the Plantagenet Dynasty was born. The War of the Roses stems from these Unions, the blood ties, that born real stories, including ‘The Game of Thrones’. Study Matilda and know that you are poised to replicate her vision. It is blatantly obvious you do not have a clue of how much power you own – that would instantly humble most leaders. Humility – is wasted on you! You are consuming all the humility of the world. You need to stop – and THINK!

I owned a vision Mr. President, of you tugging on a string that leads to my humble Bohemian abode down in your basement, and, I arise. A hot cup of coffee awaits us as we sit before the bust of Churchill and contemplate the meaning of – it all! I would be your Art Buddy, and not your teacher. Then, I beheld the sad, and dangerous truth.

On further investigation, I discovered you have rekindled the Iconoclastic Wars that my Rosemondt ancestors found themselves in the middle of. To my horror, I discovered you use a work of art to bludgeon President Obama with. You use Art to go to War. You use the word “enemy” on U.S. Citizens. If Churchill was alive, he would come across ‘The Pond’ and kick your ass: for Britain never had a better friend then the U.S.A when it came to defeating the Real Enemy. You sully the word! You grab the pussy of beautiful women, but, it is clear you don’t know what to do with it. You grab all the power one can own, and you don’t know what to do with it. I suspect Beauty itself is your mortal enemy. Mr. President, you are a very ugly man!

I must now declare you ‘The Enemy of Art’. You are in the company of Evil Men. Not since the defeat of Hitler, by the friends, Winston Churchill, and F.D.R, has there been one who dare take that Dictator’s place. You mock these great men. They hated the SS Gestapo, who stole some of the greatest art made in the west. You need to look in the mirror I hold up to you, and behold the Monster. You need to look at the artist who rendered that bust – and repent! Consider Henry and Beckett.

As it is now, you are irredeemable. You are damaged goods. You and Spicer made it very clear that you see ‘The American People’ as OBJECTS – your objects! Human beings are not objects. They can be called SUBJECTS if our land was a Kingdom. Most Presidents use the title ‘My Fellow Americans’. Since you took office, you have not addressed US with the respect WE ARE ALL DUE!

As things are now, there is no hope for you. To say this is to say there is no hope for US. You have no right to remove Hope from this Freedom Land, or, play devious games with works of art, as it they were your chess pieces. I will blog on our special relationship once a week. Whether you like it or not, I am your ‘Art Buddy’.

Because you are so stupid, and know very little, I suspect you already have a ‘Art Buddy’. Care to tell the American People who, he, or she – is? Hitler was an artist. When he tried to get into the Berlin Academy, a instructor noticed something disturbing in his cityscapes. They were devoid of people. Did Hitler find all the German People – unworthy?


Jon Presco

by George Charles Beresford,photograph,1924

by George Charles Beresford,photograph,1924

People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any individual who challenges “cherished beliefs or venerated institutions on the grounds that they are erroneous or pernicious”.[1] Conversely, one who reveres or venerates religious images is called (by iconoclasts) an iconolater; in a Byzantine context, such a person is called an iconodule or iconophile.

Iconoclasm may be carried out by people of a different religion, but is often the result of sectarian disputes between factions of the same religion. In Christianity, iconoclasm has generally been motivated by people who adopt a literal interpretation of the Ten Commandments, which forbid the making and worshipping of “graven images or any likeness of anything”.[2] The Church Fathers identified Jews and Judaism with heresy. They saw deviations from orthodox Christianity and opposition to the veneration of images as heresies that were essentially “Jewish in spirit”.[3] The degree of iconoclasm among Christian branches greatly varies. Islam, in general, tends to be more iconoclastic than Christianity,[4] with Sunni Islam being more iconoclastic than Shia Islam.

Dinesh D’Souza


Symbolizing the end of the Obama era, @realDonaldTrump wants Winston Churchill’s bust back in the White House

Hours after officially becoming the 45th president of the United States Friday, President Donald Trump, who is known to appreciate his ancestral ties to Scotland, kept his campaign promise of returning the bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office.

The sculpture originally was displayed in the Oval Office, a gift from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to former President George W Bush, the Telegraph reported Friday. But the piece created by British sculptor Jacob Epstein was removed by Barack Obama in 2009, who replaced it with a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

After Obama’s action triggered outcries from government officials in both the U.S. and the Britain, Obama sheepishly said he kept a personal statue of Churchill in his private office in the domestic quarters of the White House. Obama said he preferred it there so he could see it every day. The mayor of London at the time, Boris Johnson, called the move a “snub to Britain,” and suggested the artwork be returned to British Embassy. Johnson said Obama’s actions were inspired by his “ancestral dislike of the British Empire.”


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in 2011 that Obama’s decision to remove the Churchill bust was “a great insult to the British.”

“My private office is called the Treaty Room. Right outside the door of the Treaty Room so that I see it every day, including on weekends when I’m going into that office to watch a basketball game, the primary image I see is a bust of Winston Churchill,” Obama told a

However, Churchill’s grandson, Tory MP for Mid Sussex, seemed less than impressed with the new president. Just hours after the bust was back in the Oval Office Nicholas Soames tweeted: ” ‘Almost unbelievable speech by The President without grace or magnanimity’ #Goddefendtheright”

The Sun revealed earlier this month how Trump asked Britain to send the Churchill sculpture back to the White House during talks with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Trump’s closest advisers Jared Kushner and Steven Bannon relayed the request for the bust’s return after revealing their boss was a big fan of the legendary Tory, and had even read Boris’s biography of him.

The gesture marks a diplomatic coup for the PM in her bid to win influence over the unpredictable new US leader.

A bitter row over the bust’s location has raged for seven years since outgoing President Barack Obama replaced the wartime leader’s image with one of Martin Luther King in 2009.

Reports of Churchill’s removal prompted protests from British figures including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who in turn was criticised when he blamed the swap on Mr Obama’s “ancestral dislike of the British empire”.

Trump was sworn in yesterday as the 45th President of the United States

Trump was sworn in yesterday as the 45th President of the United States

He explained at the time: “When I was elected as president of the United States, my predecessor had kept a Churchill bust in the oval office.

“There are only so many tables where you can put busts otherwise it starts looking a little cluttered.

“And I thought it was appropriate and I suspect that most people here in the United Kingdom might agree, that as the first African-American president, it might be appropriate to have a bust of Dr Martin Luther King in my office to remind me of all the hard work of a lot of people who would somehow allow me to have the privilege of holding this office.”

After meeting Mr Trump in November, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said he was “especially pleased at his very positive reaction to the idea that Sir Winston Churchill’s bust should be put back in the Oval Office”.

Sir Jacob Epstein KBE (10 November 1880 – 19 August 1959) was a British[1][2][3][4] sculptor who helped pioneer modern sculpture. He was born in the United States, and moved to Europe in 1902, becoming a British citizen in 1911. He often produced controversial works which challenged taboos on what was appropriate subject matter for public artworks. He also made paintings and drawings, and often exhibited his work.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Epstein’s parents were Polish Jewish refugees,[6][7] living on New York’s Lower East Side. His family was middle-class, and he was the third of five children. His interest in drawing came from long periods of illness; as a child he suffered from pleurisy.

He studied art in his native New York as a teenager, sketching the city, and joined the Art Students League of New York in 1900. For his livelihood, he worked in a bronze foundry by day, studying drawing and sculptural modelling at night. Epstein’s first major commission was to illustrate Hutchins Hapgood‘s Spirit of the Ghetto. The money from the commission was used by Epstein to move to Paris.

Move to Europe[edit]

Moving to Europe in 1902, he studied in Paris at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts. He settled in London in 1905 and married Margaret Dunlop in 1906.[8] In 1911 he became a British subject.[9] Many of Epstein’s works were sculpted at his two cottages in Loughton, Essex, where he lived first at number 49 then 50, Baldwin’s Hill (there is a blue plaque on number 50). He served briefly in the 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers aka the Jewish Legion during World War I.


In London, Epstein involved himself with a bohemian and artistic crowd. Revolting against ornate, pretty art, he made bold, often harsh and massive forms of bronze or stone. His sculpture is distinguished by its vigorous rough-hewn realism. Avant-garde in concept and style, his works often shocked his audience. This was not only a result of their (often explicit) sexual content, but also because they deliberately abandoned the conventions of classical Greek sculpture favoured by European Academic sculptors to experiment instead with the aesthetics of art traditions as diverse as those of India, West Africa, and the Pacific Islands.[10] People in Liverpool, however, nicknamed his nude male sculpture over the door of Lewis’s department store “Dickie Lewis”. Such factors may have focused disproportionate attention on certain aspects of Epstein’s long and productive career, throughout which he aroused hostility, especially challenging taboos surrounding the depiction of sexuality.

Jacob Epstein in 1934, photograph by Carl Van Vechten

London was not ready for Epstein’s first major commission – 18 large nude sculptures made in 1908 for the façade of Charles Holden‘s building for the British Medical Association on The Strand (now Zimbabwe House) were initially considered shocking to Edwardian sensibilities, again mainly due to the perception that they were over-explicit sexually. In art-historical terms, however, the Strand sculptures were controversial for quite a different reason: they represented Epstein’s first thoroughgoing attempt to break away from traditional European iconography in favour of elements derived from an alternative sculptural milieu – that of classical India. The female figures in particular may be seen deliberately to incorporate the posture and hand gestures of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu art from the subcontinent in no uncertain terms.[11][12] The current, mutilated condition of many of the sculptures is also not entirely connected with prudish censorship; the damage was caused in the 1930s when possibly dangerous projecting features were hacked off after pieces fell from one of the statues.

One of the most famous of Epstein’s early commissions is the tomb of Oscar Wilde in Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, “which was condemned as indecent and at one point was covered in tarpaulin by the French police.”[13]

Epstein’s 1913 sculpture The Rock Drill in its original form. It is now lost.

Between 1913 and 1915, Epstein was associated with the short-lived Vorticism movement and produced one of his best known sculptures The Rock Drill. In 1915, John Quinn, wealthy American collector and patron to the modernists, bought an Epstein sculpture to add his private collection.[14]

In 1916, Epstein was commissioned by Viscount Tredegar to produce a bronze head of Newport poet W. H. Davies. The bronze, regarded by many as the most accurate artistic impression of Davies and a copy of which Davies owned himself, may be found at Newport Museum and Art Gallery[15]

In 1928, Epstein sculpted the head of the popular singer and film star Paul Robeson. A commission from Holden for the new headquarters building of the London Electric Railway generated another controversy in 1929. His nude sculptures Day and Night above the entrances of 55 Broadway were again considered indecent and a debate raged for some time regarding demands to remove the offending statues which had been carved in-situ. Eventually a compromise was reached to modify the smaller of the two figures represented on Day. But the controversy affected his commissions for public work which dried up until World War II.

Between the late 1930s and the mid-1950s, numerous works by Epstein were exhibited in Blackpool. Adam, Consummatum Est, Jacob and the Angel and Genesis (amongst other less notable works) were initially displayed in an old drapery shop surrounded by red velvet curtains. The crowds were ushered in at the cost of a shilling by a barker on the street. After a small tour of American fun fairs, the works were returned to Blackpool and were exhibited in the anatomical curiosities section of Louis Tussaud’s waxworks. The works were displayed alongside dancing marionettes, diseased body parts and conjoined (“Siamese”) twin babies in jars. Placing Epstein within the context of freakish curiosity, especially at a time of such hostility towards the Jews, perhaps added to Epstein’s decision not to create further large-scale direct carvings.

St Michael’s Victory over the Devil (1958), on the new Coventry Cathedral

Bronze portrait sculpture formed one of Epstein’s staple products, and perhaps the best known. These sculptures were often executed with roughly textured surfaces, expressively manipulating small surface planes and facial details. Some fine examples are in the National Portrait Gallery. Another famous example is the bust of legendary Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman that sat in the marble halls of Highbury for many years before being moved to the new Emirates Stadium.

Epstein’s aluminium figure of Christ in Majesty (1954–55), is suspended above the nave in Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff, on a concrete arch designed by George Pace.

His larger sculptures were his most expressive and experimental, but also his most vulnerable. His depiction of Rima, one of author W. H. Hudson‘s most famous characters, graces a serene enclosure in Hyde Park. Even here, a visitor became so outraged as to defile it with paint. He was one of 250 sculptors who exhibited in the 3rd Sculpture International, which was organised by the Fairmount Park Association (now the Association for Public Art) and held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the summer of 1949.

Epstein would often sculpt the images of friends, casual acquaintances, and even people dragged from the street into his studio almost at random. He worked even on his dying day. He also painted; many of his watercolours and gouaches were of Epping Forest, where he lived (at Loughton) and sculpted. These were often exhibited at the Leicester Galleries in London. His Monkwood Autumn and Pool, Epping Forest date from 1944–45.

Epstein was Jewish,[16][17][18][19] and negative reviews of his work sometimes took on an antisemitic flavour, though he did not attribute the “average unfavorable criticism” of his work to antisemitism.[20]

Epstein met Albert Einstein at Roughton Heath, Norfolk, in 1933 and had three sittings for a bust. He remembered his meeting with Einstein as, “His glance contained a mixture of the humane, the humorous and the profound. This was a combination which delighted me. He resembled the ageing Rembrandt.”[21]

Personal life[edit]

Despite being married to and continuing to live with Margaret, Epstein had a number of relationships with other women that brought him his five children: Peggy Jean (born 1918), Theo (1924–1954), Kathleen (1926–2011), Esther (1929–1954) and Jackie (born 1934). Margaret generally tolerated these relationships – even to the extent of bringing up his first and last children. In 1921, Epstein began the longest of these relationships, with Kathleen Garman, one of the Garman sisters,[22] 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. However, Margaret’s tolerance did not extend to Epstein’s relationship with Kathleen Garman, and in 1923 Margaret shot and wounded Kathleen in the shoulder.”[13]

Margaret Epstein died in 1947, and after Epstein was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1954 New Year Honours[23] he married Kathleen Garman in 1955.

Their eldest daughter, also named Kathleen but known as “Kitty”, married painter Lucian Freud in 1948 and was mother of two of his daughters, Annie and Annabel. She is the subject of the painting Portrait of Kitty. In 1953 they divorced. She married a second time in 1955, to economist Wynne Godley.[24] They have one daughter.[24]

Death and legacy[edit]

Blue Plaque for Jacob Epstein Sculptor, located at 18 Hyde Park Gate, London SW7 5DH

A narrow granite headstone with rough surface finish in a grassy cemetery

Jacob Epstein’s grave at Putney Vale Cemetery, London in 2014

Epstein died 21 August 1959 in London[3] and is buried in Putney Vale Cemetery. A blue plaque may be found at “Deerhurst”, 50 Baldwins Hill in Loughton, which was his home from 1933 to 1950.[25]

The Garman Ryan Collection, including several works by Epstein, was donated to the people of Walsall, by Lady Epstein in 1973. It is on display at The New Art Gallery Walsall.[26]

His art is displayed all over the world;[27] highly original for its time, its influence on the younger generation of sculptors such as Henry Moore[28][29] and Barbara Hepworth[30] was significant. According to June Rose, in her biography, Moore was befriended by the older sculptor during the early 1920s and visited Epstein in his studio. Epstein, along with Moore and Hepworth, all expressed a deep fascination with the non-western art from the British Museum.

In March 2000 the Epstein Estate appointed Tate Images as the Copyright Agent for all permissions clearance.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to The President’s Art Buddy?

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    I have been debating about giving the crux of my book away in regards to the link between Winston Churchill, Henry Brevoort, and Washington Irving. Art and Literature is bigger than us all.

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