Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION
Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)

Single Form (Rosewood)

Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975)
Single Form (Rosewood)
rosewood, unique
19½ in. (49.5 cm) high, excluding black-painted wooden base
Carved in 1962-63.
This work is recorded as BH 310.
Purchased directly from the artist by Gimpel Fils, London in February 1965.
with Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer, New York, where purchased by the present owner in October 1977.
Exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Drawings, Zurich, Gimpel-Hanover Galerie, 1963, n.p., no. 9, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Drawings, London, Gimpel Fils, June 1964, n.p., no. 9, illustrated.
A. Bowness, The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, London, 1971, pp. 32-33, no. 310, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth: 50 sculptures from 1935 to 1970, London, Gimpel Fils, 1975, n.p., no. 38, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Hepworth, New York, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer, 1977, n.p., no. 8, illustrated.
Zurich, Gimpel-Hanover Galerie, Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Drawings, November 1963 - January 1964, no. 9.
London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Drawings, June 1964, no. 9.
London, Tate Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, April - May 1968, no. 120.
London, Gimpel Fils, Barbara Hepworth: 50 sculptures from 1935 to 1970, October - November 1975, no. 38.
New York, Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer, Hepworth, March - April 1977, no. 8.
Special notice
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William Porter
William Porter

Lot Essay

Barbara Hepworth loved to carve rosewood. She loved the softness of its grain and the rich brown of its colour. It was as if light and shadow were physical as they flowed over the shiny satin of its surfaces. She had a way of feeling her sculptures, not with her fingers, but with the palms of her hands. It was as if she was caressing them – exploring their rhythms, sensing their weight, feeling their textures, and exploring them the ways light and shadow might. When she spoke about them her words were caressive too – as if her sculptures could hear what she had to say about them.

This sculpture dates from the 1960s, a decade of relentless creativity and maturity. Her studio – Trewyn – was in the middle of downtown St.Ives and yet secluded. Today it is a museum and open to the public, but in those days, surrounded by a high granite wall and overlooking the church, the roofs and the harbour of the town, its white interior was an oasis of quiet and calm concentration. Here she had separate spaces for stone carving and for wood, and in the evenings after dinner she listened to music and drew.

As a sculptor her materials spoke to her. She loved the plasticity and grain of plaster. She loved the weight of white marble, and how its surfaces, responding to chisel or rasp, could be sharp and craggy, or as cool and sensuous as skin. There were green marbles and blue limestones too, each with their own quality and language. Woods – elm or mahogany – had their languages also. Rosewood was never cold. Its surfaces were capable of a polished sheen like satin. When Barbara carved in rosewood it was as if she was inviting light and shadow to become our hands as well as our eyes, sensuously exploring her sculpture’s rhythms, roving over its swellings and hollows, its textures and edges, and exiting its penetrations to the light beyond.

These were not new themes for Hepworth. In the 1930s she made mother and child sculptures in alabaster. The child figures in these near-abstract sculptures were separate and small, and could nestle into the recumbent maternal form. It was a time when the sculptor’s triplets were babies, and these small sculptures clearly reflected her own experiences of motherhood.

In the early 1950s she lived through deep and contrasting experiences. Her marriage to the painter Ben Nicholson ended, and in February 1953 her son Paul was killed when flying as an RAF pilot over Thailand. The surfaces and hollows of her sculptures now reflected new and deeper meanings for her. She had lived through the horrors of fascism and war. But she also belonged to a new international generation of sculptors: Brancusi, Arp, Moore, and Calder.

She sometimes spoke of herself as being landscape. She saw life as the seasons, as birth, motherhood, maturity and death; in her studio she listened to Bach; in the dales of Yorkshire and the moors and seascapes of the Penwith peninsula of Cornwall, she perceived the repetitive rhythms of nature; and in winds, sea surges and the stars at night she saw rhythms of eternity.

We are very grateful to David Lewis for preparing this catalogue entry.

We are grateful to Dr Sophie Bowness for her assistance with the cataloguing apparatus for this work. Dr Sophie Bowness is preparing the revised catalogue raisonné of Hepworth’s sculpture.

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