PARIS, AS FAR as Epstein was concerned, was one great storehouse of painting and sculpture. But he had been there only two days when Paris pointed out to him that she had a very human side and that she nourished more arts than painting and sculpture.
On his second day, Epstein, while walking, ran into the great procession which was going to Emile Zola's funeral at the Cimetière Montmartre. He joined the procession and arrived at the funeral just in time to witness the clashes between the anti-Semites and the Gendarmes.
This incident served to give Epstein a more rational focus on Paris. He was still enthused over its art treasures, but he realized that this was no dream city and indeed bore many similarities to his own New York. However, there was little time for philosophizing. The louvre claimed Epstein's role attention for some days, and after that, it was the Trocadero and the Musée Cernusci. This was what he had come for. Every day there was a new discovery. He found the limestone bust of Akhnaton at the Trocadero, and a great collection of primitive sculpture.
Scarcely a week after he arrived in Paris, Epstein applied for admission to the Beaux Arts. He knew little, if any, French, but he had unbounded confidence. There was an entrance test in modeling, which he passed successfully, and so was formally admitted to study.
At that time, there were few foreign students in the French Academies, and for some reason these few were resented. Epstein was hazed; the students would hear of nothing but that he must box one of them. They matched him with a deaf and dumb Gascon. The East Sider knocked him head over heels among the modeling stands, and Epstein had won a more or less sullen respect from the other students, in one punch.
For months after his admission to the Beaux Arts, he had time for nothing but work. In the mornings he would model from life, and in the afternoons he would carve. There was practically no instruction in carving, and Epstein enjoyed being left alone to draw or carve in the large room which was full of Michelangelo's casts.
There was no phase of study at the school into which he did not enter. It was because of this energy and interest that he met his first minor artistic defeat. At an anatomy lecture, an arm from a corpse was passed among the students for