Lot 4
  • 4

Barbara Hepworth

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Barbara Hepworth
  • New Penwith
  • marble
  • length (including base): 91.3cm.
  • 35 7/8 in.


Estate of the artist (New Art Centre)

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007


Zurich, Marlborough Galerie, Barbara Hepworth, 1975, no. 26, illustrated in the catalogue

New York, Marlborough Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Bronzes, 1979, no. 15, illustrated in the catalogue

London, Asprey Jacques, Barbara Hepworth/Tania Kovats, 1998

New York, PaceWildenstein, Barbara Hepworth: Stone Sculpture, 2001, no. 5, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Valencia, Institut Valencia d'Art Modern, Barbara Hepworth, 2004, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Donald Kuspit, Artforum, New York, vol. XXXIX, no. 10, Summer 2001, mentioned p. 183


Carved in white marble in two separate forms attached to a painted wooden base using metal spikes and screws. There are a few flaws inherent to the material in the upper right side of the concave form. This work is in excellent original condition.
"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

An important example of Hepworth’s late work, New Penwith is an elegant marble that beautifully illustrates her complete mastery of the medium. Carving was the artist’s predominant form of expression and the method through which she produced some of her most celebrated works. The introduction to carving came during the period Hepworth spent in Italy as a student, and it was also there that she was first drawn to the material properties of marble, and particularly to the white marbles that she would continue to use for the rest of her life. However, for Hepworth it was necessary to combine the material properties of the medium with a deeper sense of meaning, as she explained: ‘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 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’ (quoted in Barbara Hepworth Retrospective Exhibition 1927-1954 (exhibition catalogue), Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1954, p. 10).

The title of the present work refers to the Penwith peninsula that forms the most south-westerly point of Cornwall. Hepworth lived in Cornwall for more than half her life, first moving there in the summer of 1939. The surrounding landscape, with its ancient standing stones, dramatic coastline and remarkable quality of light, had an immense impact on her artistic practice. As she wrote of her early years there, ‘It was during this time that I gradually discovered the remarkable pagan landscape which lies between St. Ives, Penzance and Land’s End; a landscape which still has a very deep effect on me, developing all my ideas about the relationship of the human figure in the landscape’ (quoted in Barbara Hepworth. A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, Liverpool, 1994, p. 81). The influence of this landscape is particularly evident in the work from the last decade of her life, when she returned to explore the forms that had been central to her earlier production: the single standing form, the closed form and the two forms which she once described as representing ‘the tender relationship of one living thing beside another’ (quoted in ibid., p. 10). Although almost geometric in their purity of line, the two forms of New Penwith still contrive to capture the essence of a living being within a landscape and exemplify Hepworth’s unique ability to communicate abstract concepts of shape and form within a personal and human context.