Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
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Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

Young Girl

Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Young Girl
West African mahogany
Height: 62 5/8 in. (158.6 cm.)
Carved and painted in 1951-1952; unique
Cyril S. Reddihough, Ilkley, Yorkshire (acquired from the artist, 1953).
Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London (acquired from the above, 1976).
Herbert A. Fogel, Philadelphia (acquired from the above, April 1976).
Anon. sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 4 November 1993, lot 354.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
"Review of Lefevre Gallery Exhibition" in Evening News: Night Special Edition, 2 October 1952.
"Sculpture Exhibition: Miss Barbara Hepworth’s New Works" in The Times, 7 October 1952.
M.H. Middleton, "Art" in The Spectator, 10 October 1952.
Q. Bell, "Round the London Galleries" in The Listener, 16 October 1952, p. 644 (illustrated).
J.P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, New York, 1961, p. 167, no. 176 (illustrated).
A.M. Hammacher, The Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, New York, 1968, p. 115.
"Dame Barbara's Staggering Birthday 'Family' Sculpture" in Bradford Telegraph, 18 April 1972.
J.P. Hodin, John Milne: Sculptor, Life and Work, London, 1977, p. 80.
A.M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth: Revised Edition, New York, 1998, p. 115.
S. Festing, Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms, New York, 1995, p. 204.
C. Lampert, et al., The Whitechapel Art Gallery Centenary Review: 1901-2001, Manchester, 2001, p. 46 (illustrated in color in situ in the 1954 Whitechapel exhibition).
S. Bowness, ed., Barbara Hepworth: Writings and Conversations, London, 2015, p. 95 (illustrated in color in situ in the 1954 Whitechapel exhibition, fig. 22).
(probably) St. Ives, Penwith Gallery, Summer Exhibition, 1952, no. 118 (titled Girl).
London, The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), New Sculpture and Drawings by Barbara Hepworth, October 1952, no. 5 (illustrated).
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective Exhibition of Carvings and Drawings from 1927 to 1954, April-June 1954, p. 28, no. 149.
Eccles, Monk's Hall Museum, A Tribute to L.S. Lowry, October 1964, p. 27, no. 9 (illustrated).
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Lot Essay

Dr. Sophie Bowness will include this work in her forthcoming revised Hepworth catalogue raisonné under the catalogue number BH 176.

Carved in 1951-1952 from West African mahogany, Young Girl is a striking and elegant example of Hepworth’s single forms, its delicate, sinuous shape evoking the subtleties and majesty of the standing human figure. The single standing form was among the most important of Hepworth’s oeuvre and became an archetypal image, as the reclining figure would for Henry Moore. Only a small number of sculptures in Hepworth’s oeuvre feature human facial attributes—the present work depicts a face in profile, while maintaining an overall abstract quality.
“Towards the end of 1952, [Hepworth] was showing once again at Lefevre, thirty drawings and fifteen sculptures, all of which had been carved in the preceding eighteen months. Male and female figures, standing, lying, seated… [A]lmost every shade of human metamorphosis was represented. Some of the sculptures have human features, some just profiles, in others the human element is still more elusive” writes Sally Festing. She describes the present work as “a young girl [who] slides like an arboreal princess, mysteriously from five feet of West African mahogany” (op. cit., pp. 203-204).
In her wood and stone sculptures Hepworth reaffirmed her dedication to the concept of "direct carving," in which she worked the material, tools in hand, on her own. She was equally committed to "truth in materials," the concept that the work should reflect the sculptor's direct response to the inherent qualities of the chosen material. Hepworth stated: "Carving to me is more interesting than modelling because there is an unlimited variety of materials from which to draw inspiration" (quoted in Barbara Hepworth, exh. cat., Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, 2004, p. 91). Working in wood and stone required different approaches to carving. "With wood," she explained to Alan Bowness, "you are always considering the whole growth, which is vertical... In the wood carvings the interior gouging is all done by hand, and no mallet... It has to be rhythmical—one's whole mind and body must be focused on it, otherwise the carving just changes character and direction" (quoted in A. Bowness, ed., The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, 1960-1969, London, 1971, pp. 8 and 15).
At the time Young Girl was executed, hardwoods such as mahogany became Hepworth’s favorite working material, organic in nature and ideal for creating such large-scale, geomorphic forms. In many ways Hepworth's carvings based on the single figure focus on the color and shape of the material, as much in celebration of the wood as the subject itself.

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