Belgrave St Ives - Modern & Contemporary Art

Barbara Hepworth DBE

Barbara Hepworth DBE (1903-1975)

Born: Yorkshire

Studied: Royal College of Art 1921-1924, Leeds School of Art 1920

Moved to Cornwall: 1939


After completing college, Dame Barbara Hepworth lived and travelled in Italy for a year. She travelled with the sculptor John Skeaping. Following time spent in Florence she travelled to Rome where she received a thorough training in carving and developed an understanding for marble. At this time carving was not taught by the Royal College.

During the early 1920s, she exhibited with her husband in London and maintained frequent contact with Henry Moore (a fellow student). In 1931, whilst on holiday with Moore and other sculptors, she met Ben Nicholson, and later that year she went to live with him.

Hepworth and Nicholson married and lived together in London. They travelled to France during the early 1930s, where they met artists such as Picasso, Brancusi, Braque and Mondrian. In 1939 they decided to set out for St. Ives in Cornwall. Her work, influenced in part by Nicholson's formality and abstraction, was now also influenced by Gabo's constructivism. However, it was not until 1949 that she was able to work in a studio where she could carve outside, before this time, she was only really finding time to draw and make small-scale works.

Throughout the 1950s, Hepworth gained recognition, but these years were also full of personal crisis. Her marriage broke-up, and her first child, Paul Skeaping, died in an aircraft incident. By the late 1950s she had started to come to terms with the death of her son and was able to start working on a larger scale, in Bronze. By the early 1960s, her work had become not just about a strict geometry but also about composite structures and monumental presence. Over time, she purchased some land around her studio and so, as well as taking on commissions and exhibiting both nationally and internationally she was also able to display her work at home. She was made a Dame in 1965 and appointed a Trustee of the Tate Gallery in London. She died in a fire that started in her studio in 1975.

Her work is held in many collections all over the world.


Solo Exhibitions


39 Sculptures, also Paintings and Screenprints, Marlborough Fine Art, London

12 Lithographs, Curwen Galley, London

24 Sculptures, also Drawings, Gimpel Gallery, New York

Joint Exhibition with Bernard Leach; 43 Sculptures, Guildhall, Library and Parish Church, St. Ives

Retrospective 1927-67; 186 Sculptures and 40 drawings, Tate Gallery, London

35 Sculptures and 10 Drawings, Gimpel Fils, London

28 Sculptures and 12 Drawings, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York

Retrospective 1935-64; 45 Sculptures and 23 drawings
Toured to: Basel, Turin, 1966 to Karlsruhen and Essen

Retrospective 1935-64; 28 Sculptures and 12 Drawings, organised by the British Council for Scandinavia
Toured to: Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Ateneum, Helsinki, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo

44 Sculptures and 16 Drawings, Gimpel Fils, London

13 Sculptures and 3 Drawings, Art Gallery of Toronto

25 Sculptures and 10 Drawings, Gimpel-Hanover Galerie, Zurich

Retrospective 1952-62; 75 Sculptures, Whitechapel Art Gallery

5 Sculptures, 5 Drawings and Photographs, organised by the British Council
Travelled to: Ceylon, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Sarawak, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaya

24 Sculptures and 11 Drawings, Gimpel Fils, London

30 Sculptures and 24 Drawings, Galerie Charles Lienhard, Zurich

Retrospective Exhibition 1939-58, organised by the British Council
Travelled to: Comison Nacional de Bellas Artes, Montevideo, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Instituo de Arte Modern, Santiago, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas

Selected Bibliography

Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Drawings London 1952
Barbara Hepworth: A Pictorial Autobiography 1970
Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective Liverpool and Ontario 1994
Booth, John b. 'Window on the Ear: Barbara Hepworth and the Fenestration Series of Drawings' The Journal of Laryngology and Ontology, vol. 114, April 2000, Supp. 26, pp.1-29
Bowness, Alan (ed.) The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960 - 1969 London 1971
Curtis, Penelope 'The Landscape of Barbara Hepworth' The Sculpture Journal II, London 1998, pp.106-112
Gale, Matthew and Stephens, Chris Barbara Hepworth: Works in the Tate Collection and the Barbara Hepworth Museum St. Ives London 2001
Gardiner, Margaret Barbara Hepworth: A Memoir Edinburth 1982
Hodin, J. P Barbara Hepworth London and Neuchatel 1961
Thistlewood, David (ed.) Barbara Hepworth Reconsidered Liverpool 1996