Miranda Seymour

Family Affairs

The Rare and the Beautiful: The Lives of the Garmans

By

Fourth Estate 281pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

It was a visit to the remarkable collection of modern art given by Jacob Epstein’s widow to the hitherto unloved and overlooked West Midlands town of Walsall that started Cressida Connolly’s researches into the Garman family. Lady Epstein was born Kathleen Garman. Memories of a blissful turn-of-the-century childhood, in a rambling Jacobean house near Walsall which had belonged to their father, caused Kathleen to choose the town as a home for the paintings and sculpture collected by herself and a rich American called Sally Ryan, together with a generous number of her late husband’s own works. Tate Modern might have seemed the more obvious choice, but Kathleen, as Connolly’s warm, understanding and generous-hearted book reveals, was a woman who had never allowed convention to dictate her choices.

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