Art: With a Hammer

In London one morning last week, Sculptor Jacob Epstein got up early, donned a dirty cotton shirt and frayed, clay-soiled suit. After breakfast he stuffed a hammer and chisel into his sagging pockets, pulled a long-billed baseball cap down over his bald dome, and shambled hurriedly off to the Leicester Galleries. His first exhibition in three years was due to open there at 9 a.m. Epstein arrived at 8 to put some last-minute nicks in a major work, his 1½-ton, 7½-foot-tall Lazarus.

An hour later, when the critics came, Epstein stepped down from his ladder with a sigh of satisfaction. "I have...