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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE ROBERT AND SHIRLEY ROBINS

Two Forms from Delos

Two Forms from Delos
white marble, unique
5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm.) high, including the base
Carved in 1970.
This work is recorded as BH 509.
A gift from the artist to Mr Robins in September 1970, and by descent.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Brought to you by

Angus Granlund
Angus Granlund Director, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Two Forms from Delos is one of the finest small works from the artist's later output, carved in 1970, but evoking the simplicity of her work of the 1930s in reducing each shape to a simple, geometric form, thus highlighting the tautness of volume in space, and the delineation of line and plane. Hepworth's understanding of the material is demonstrated in the smooth finish, punctuated by the veins of the marble, thereby creating a sinuous and organic work. Her skilful manipulation of the surfaces of the forms, here juxtaposing flat and carved planes, creates a pure and visually striking aesthetic.

It was during her time in Rome in 1924 in the nascent part of her career that Hepworth discovered the white Seravezza marble that she would utilise for the rest of her life in work carved directly from hand, without the intervention of mechanical tools. She had taken lessons in Italy from Giovanni Ardini, marmista (marble carver), and such was her passion for the meaning that the material could inspire in the hands of the artist, that in 1932 she declared that 'the sculptor carves because he must. He needs the concrete form of stone and wood for the expression of his idea and experience' (B. Hepworth, ‘The Sculptor Carves Because He Must’, The Studio, Vol. 104, London, 1932, p. 332).

For Hepworth the relationship between the form of the work and the chosen material was crucial to the balance of the finished composition: 'In sculpture there must be a complete realisation of the structure and quality of the stone or wood which is being carved. But I do not think that this alone supplies the life and vitality of the sculpture. I believe that the understanding of the material and the meaning of the form being carved must be in perfect equilibrium' (B. Hepworth quoted in exhibition catalogue, Barbara Hepworth Retrospective Exhibition 1927-1954, London, Whitechapel Gallery, 1954, p. 10). The intimacy of carving directly by hand was intrinsic to the relationship that the artist could achieve with her medium, deepening her understanding of the unique personality of marble: 'I do not like using mechanical devices or automatic tools. Even if the work was done ten times more easily I should miss the physical pleasure of direct contact with every part of the form from the beginning to the end' (B. Hepworth quoted in 'Approach to Sculpture', The Studio, London, October 1946, p. 34).

The title of the present work was inspired by Hepworth's trip to Greece in 1954 with her friend and patron, Margaret Gardiner. The island of Delos near Mykonos is one of the most important mythological, historical, and archaeological sites in Greece, the significance of its port due to its central position in the southern Aegean. The birthplace of the twins Apollo and Artemis, the island is covered with early sculpture, much of which was excavated at the beginning of the 20th Century. In her Greek Diary: 1954-64, the artist wrote of Delos: 'Ascended Kynthes alone, the cave of Apollo - half-way magnificent and majestic. A pool with fine fig trees nearby full of giant (sacred?) toads - leaping and barking. Also green frogs. Went on alone up the last steep ascent, but the wind was angry - ferocious. I fell, my hair was nearly whisked o' my head - my clothes nearly torn o' me. I bowed to the will of the gods and descended'.

The present work is carved from Delos marble and was given to Mr Robins as a gift on 12 September 1970.

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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