Lot 18
  • 18

Dame Barbara Hepworth

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Barbara Hepworth
  • Vertical Form (St Ives)
  • numbered 8/9
  • polished bronze
  • height (not including base): 47cm.; 18½in.
  • Conceived in 1969, the present work is number 8 from the edition of 9 plus 1 Artist's cast.


Acquired directly from the Artist by the present owner, May 1970


London, Marlborough Fine Art, Barbara Hepworth, 11th February - 13th March 1970, cat. no.29 (another cast);
London, Arts Council, Barbara Hepworth, Sculpture and Lithographs, 1970-1, cat. no.16 (another cast);
Japan, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Barbara Hepworth Exhibition, June - September 1970, cat. no.39 (another cast);
St Ives, Penwith Gallery, Autumn Exhibition, September - November 1971, cat. no.4 (another cast);
St Ives, Penwith Gallery, Winter Exhibition, December 1971 - February 1972, cat. no. 5 (another cast).


Alan Bowness (ed.), The Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth 1960-69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, cat. no.495, p.50, illustrated pl.178 (another cast);
Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1980-2, Tate, London, 1984, illustrated p.123 (another cast);
Matthew Gale & Chris Stephens, Barbara Hepworth, Tate Publishing, London, 1999, cat. no.66, pp.243-5, illustrated (another cast).


Structurally sound. The work has recently benefitted from a re-polish, and appears in excellent overall condition. Housed on a 12cm. high wooden base. Please contact the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

We are grateful to Dr. Sophie Bowness for her kind assistance with the cataloguing apparatus for the present work, which will feature in her forthcoming revised catalogue raisonné of the Artist's sculpture.

Executed in 1969, Vertical Form (St Ives) provides an important visual manifestation of many of the major themes that Hepworth had explored throughout her life. The focus on upright form was one that was particularly relevant in the works of her last years, culminating in the large groups, The Family of Man of 1970 (BH513) and Conversation with Magic Stones of 1973 (BH567). Throughout her career, Hepworth had combined a sense of monumental majesty in all her work, no matter what the scale and in the later sculptures the sense that these forms are in some way related to the totemic depiction of primitive figures grows much stronger. Indeed, Hepworth herself described the upright figures of Conversation with Magic Stones in terms of 'the majesty of totems,an epithet that could easily refer to the vertical elegance of the present work.

Hepworth had moved to St Ives in 1939 and she became particularly inpsired by the landscape of the West Country and its dramatic position at the junction between land and sea. Her titles began to contain geographical references that signal specific sources of inspiration and in the case of the present work, St Ives is particularly significant as the coastal town was to remain her home for the rest of her life. 

The pierced forms are a direct reference to another important strand of her sculptural language and to her seminal work Pierced Form 1932, now sadly lost. Whilst a number of European sculptors had introduced piercings into their work much earlier, notably Archipenko and Lipchitz, this had tended to be organic and related to the stylisation of their subject. Hepworth's use of a non-objective piercing of the form in 1932 appears to pre-date that of her contemporary and friend Henry Moore by somewhere approaching a year. Whilst such questions of dating are difficult to pin down, what is irrefutable is that Hepworth's introduction of this element greatly enriched the possibilities of abstract sculpture by abolishing the concept of a closed, and thus entire form, and brought the individual sculpture firmly into the environment within which it was placed. In the present workthe piercing also serves to create contrast between the solidity of the rounded forms and add a delicacy and openess to them, as well as bringing light and reflection into the heart of the grouping.

Drawing together the strands of both the organic-derived forms of the post-war period and the abstract modernist sculpture of the pre-WWII years, it is in pieces such as Vertical Form (St Ives) that we see the culmination of Hepworth's artistic vision.

This work comes from the collection of Rosemary Simmons. As Managing Director of Curwen Prints Ltd, she commissioned many eminent artists to make lithographs. One of these artists was Barbara Hepworth and Rosemary would visit Hepworth at least twice a year to work on ideas for lithographs. Over the years the two formed a strong friendship: Barbara writing in one of her letters to Rosemary: ' I am terribly thrilled with fifteen new pieces of marble just arrived. I have new ideas brewing in my mind and will want to share them with you' (Barbara Hepworth, letter to Rosemary Simmons, 1975).