Clearing out the desk led to the following postcard of a Jacob Epstein sculpture being uncovered.
Originally the torso was on top of a real rock drill, and called “Rock drill” from 1913-15. When he created “Rock Drill” he was enamoured with the possibilities of machinery. Machines were to be creators of a new world, a new order. However, in time Epstein became associated with the Vorticist movement.
Vorticists rejected traditional academic institutions and looked to the future with fear. They recognized the power of technology, particularly the machine and anticipated that it would result in a bleak, purposeless life for humankind. Vorticism was the first English art movement dedicated to abstraction.
By 1915 the massive loss of life in the first world war, in part due to machine inventions such as the rapid-fire machine gun, and the loss of two close friends led Epstein to re-evaluate his work. He could no longer see Rock Drill in a positive light. He said of his creation “Here is the sinister figure of today and tomorrow. No humanity, only the terriblr Frankenstein’s monster we have made ourselves into”. The separated torso, exhibited in 1916, is meant to depict a tragic repudiation of war and weapons of mass destruction. The original aggressive figure was left limbless and vunerable.
There’s more on Jacob Epstein at Wikipedia, but there is one interesting thing that has struck me. Does the the sculpture remind you of something?
I’m not sure Epstein would have appreciated the, probably inadvertant, homage to his Rock Drill torso by giving it a weapon.