Barbara Hepworth


Barbara Hepworth : biography

10 January 1903 – 20 May 1975 aged 72


File:Barbara Hepworth monolyth empyrean.jpg|Monolith-Empyrean, 1953 File:Sphere_With_Inner_Form.jpg|Sphere with Inner Form (1963) at Trewyn Garden, St Ives, Cornwall. File:Churchill College, Hepworth.jpg|Four Square Walk through, 1966, Churchill College, Cambridge. File:Construction Crucifixion Homage to Mondrian.jpg|Construction (Crucifixion): Homage to Mondrian, outside Winchester Cathedral File:Construction Crucifixion Homage to Mondrian Explanation.jpg|Explanatory plaque for Construction (Crucifixion): Homage to Mondrian File:Statz_Statue.jpg|Achaean ca. 1963, at St Catherine’s College, Oxford File:DSCN1791DualFormStIves.jpg|Dual Form at St Ives Guildhall File:Barbara Hepworth Single Form Battersea.JPG|Single Form at Battersea Park File:Figure-hepworth.JPG| Figure for Landscape, 1960, Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.

Life and work

Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on 10 January 1903 in Wakefield, West Riding of Yorkshire, the eldest child of Herbert and Gertrude Hepworth. Her father was a civil engineer for the West Riding County Council, who in 1921 became County Surveyor. She attended Wakefield Girls High School, and won a scholarship and studied at the Leeds School of Art from 1920 (where she met Moore). She then won a County scholarship to the Royal College of Art and studied there from 1921 until she was awarded the diploma of the Royal College of Art in 1924. She later studied for a period in Italy.

Hepworth’s first marriage was to the sculptor John Skeaping. Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, 2013, Retrieved 14 May 2013. Her second marriage was to the painter Ben Nicholson. They married on 17 November 1938 at Hampstead Register Office. The couple had triplets in 1934, Simon, Rachel and Sarah; Simon also became an artist. The couple divorced in 1951. Her eldest son, Paul, was killed on 13 February 1953 in a plane crash while serving with the Royal Air Force in Thailand. Hepworth created a memorial to him, entitled Madonna and Child, in the church in St Ives.

One of her most prestigious works is Single Form, in memory of her friend and collector of her works Dag Hammarskjöld, at the United Nations building in New York City. It was commissioned in 1961 by the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation following Hammarskjöld’s death in a plane crash.

Some of her smaller works were produced in limited editions. One example is the bronze Oval Form (1965), about six inches across, which had an edition of 9 copies, one of which she donated as a school prize to St Ives School in Cornwall, where she was governor. It was latterly used as a paperwight.

Hepworth was featured in the 1964 documentary film 5 British Sculptors (Work and Talk) by American filmmaker Warren Forma. She was made a dame in 1965, ten years before her death during a fire in her St Ives studio in Cornwall, aged seventy-two.

On 20 December 2011, her 1969 sculpture Two Forms (Divided Circle) was stolen, from its plinth in Dulwich Park, South London, by suspected scrap metal thieves. The piece, which had been in the park since 1970, was insured for £500,000, a spokesman for Southwark Council said.

References and sources

  • Penelope Curtis, Barbara Hepworth. Tate Publishing, ISBN 1-85437-225-4.
  • Barbara Hepworth, Hepworth, Barbara: A Pictorial Autobiography. Tate Publishing, ISBN 1-85437-149-5.