This is one of a series of studies of surgeons operating at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital, Exeter. Hepworths's interest in this subject was stimulated after her daughter had suffered a serious illness and she was subsequently invited by the surgeon at the hospital to sit-in on operations.
An anonymous surgeon wrote the forward to Barbara Hepworth's exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery, London in April 1948, commenting that 'Little perhaps do surgeons realize the classic beauty of their surroundings, a beauty based on perfect architectural conditions designed for a purpose; the focal point within a space, which whatever its shape comes converted visually and mentally into a circle or sphere, a group of individuals, a massing of structures all arranged with simple economy, all with a movement towards one object, one purpose, all co-ordinated rhythmically and in harmony. Rarely has an artist been found with both stamina and vision who can perceive and portray the sincerity and harmony, the power and beauty, the rhythm and tenderness and the simple drama of the operating theatre. Barbara Hepworth has, in these surroundings, shown us the possibilities of symphonic grouping both physically and psychologically; the spirit of enquiry, the intensity of proper solicitude, the power of the craftsman, unhurried activity, energetic poise. And an uncanny sense of the unseen; indeed the sense of the good surgeon himself - always conscious of the unseen 'person' beneath his hands and never callous of his 'material'.