See Esther, Walsall's Mona Lisa by Bob and Roberta Smith

This series of wall paintings was created during the artist's third residency period at New Art Gallery Walsall and in many ways represents the summation of his two-year residency period.


Wood, gloss paint and enamel paint
Four panels, 200 x 200 x 10 cm each
Art Fund grant:
£8,000 ( Total: £40,000)
Acquired in:
Hayles Gallery

Smith has been involved in an extended project at Walsall working in partnership with an archivist to explore the undocumented Joseph Epstein Archive which has resulted in an online archive and 40 artworks. Smith expressed an interest in ‘creating’ a myth around a single piece of work in the collection and selected Jacob Epstein's portrait Esther, saying that people should come to Walsall to see Esther in the same way that people go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. Comprising four panels, this piece deals specifically with Jacob Epstein’s first portrait sculpture of his daughter, Esther, then aged 15. It is not clear whether Esther, whose life was cut tragically short, would have known that Epstein was her father at this stage, and Smith saw the sculpture as portraying a teenager resisting the inquisitive gaze of her father. The boards tell the story of Esther’s life, of the strains that were put on her in the months leading up to her suicide, and of Smith’s first encounter with Epstein’s sculpture.


The artist.

Venue details

The New Art Gallery Walsall Gallery Square, WALSALL West Midlands WS2 8LG 01922 654400

Entry details

Free to all
Offers with National Art Pass

Tue – Sat, 10am – 5pm Sun, 12noon – 4pm Closed Mon and Bank Holidays