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George Bernard Shaw

14 of 148 portraits of George Bernard Shaw

Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London

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George Bernard Shaw

by Jacob Epstein
bronze bust, 1934
22 7/8 in. x 9 1/2 in. (580 mm x 240 mm) overall
Purchased, 1958
Primary Collection
NPG 4047

On display in Room 24 on Floor 2 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

  • George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Playwright. Sitter in 148 portraits, Artist or producer associated with 8 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), Sculptor. Artist or producer of 15 portraits, Sitter in 71 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Shaw helped Epstein to become established in London but did not sit for a portrait until 1934. Shaw stripped to the waist, rather to Epstein's dismay: while the original bust included Shaw's torso, Epstein preferred this reduced version. He felt the portrait captured 'elements so subtle that it would be difficult to explain'. Shaw, however, turned down Epstein's offer of a copy of the bust, later revealing that his wife refused to have it in the house. Explore this portrait from all angles.

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Events of 1934back to top

Current affairs

Sir Stafford Cripps represents the miners of Gresford Colliery in Wrexham at an inquiry into the recent gas explosion and fire which killed 263 miners, and three rescue workers in one of the worst mining disasters in British history.

Art and science

Percy Shaw invents 'Cat's eyes'. The development of road reflectors increased safety on the roads at night and proved to be particularly useful during the wartime blackout. They are still used today.
Dylan Thomas published his first volume of poetry, 18 Poems.


Stalin and Hitler consolidate dictatorial power by 'purging' their opponents. In the Soviet Union, members of the Communist Party and particular sectors of society such as the intelligentsia were targeted in the 'Great Purge', while in Germany Hitler murdered hundreds of potential opponents in the SA during the 'Night of the Long Knives'.
Thousands in the USA are forced to flee their homes to escape the Dust Bowl storms.

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