Lot 312
  • 312

Barbara Hepworth

200,000 - 300,000 USD
350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Barbara Hepworth
  • Torso I (Ulysses)
  • Inscribed Barbara Hepworth, numbered 6/6 and inscribed with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris
  • Bronze 


Private Collection, Northam, England
Sale: Christie’s, London, December 2, 1986, lot 409
Gimpel Fils, London (acquired at the above sale)
New Art Centre, London
Acquired from the above on February 24, 1987


Josef P. Hodin, Barbara Hepworth, New York, 1961, illustration of another cast pl. 233
Michael Shepherd, Barbara Hepworth, London, 1963, illustration of another cast pl. 11
Abraham M. Hammacher, Barbara Hepworth, New York, 1968, no. 105, illustration of another cast p. 130

Catalogue Note

Hepworth visited Greece in 1954, and left inspired by the light, landscape and art of the region, evocatively describing how this was to influence her sculpture in the following years: "I remember standing on Patmos and thinking—with that incredible stretch of sea and islands before me—how intensely a figure rising in the distance expressed that perfect elevation of the human spirit which in a way is conveyed by a powerful sculptured form" (quoted in Josef P. Hodin, op. cit., p. 10). Torso I (Ulysses) is one such work which bears the influence of this trip, unifying in one flowing form the figural and the abstract. As if to illustrate her words to the very letter, Hepworth had this work—and the other two works in this series— photographed against the sea, realizing her Greek-inspired vision of the human spirit captured in sculptural form (see fig. 1).

The sense of the figural is emphasized in Torso I (Ulysses) by the amorphous modeling of the work; shaped first in plaster before being cast in bronze, it retains the feeling of the artist’s touch in its subtly undulating form, a notion furthered by her working of the bronze itself. It was at this time that Hepworth also began to cut and carve into the surface of her bronze works, noting that: "I only learned to love bronze when I found that it was gentle and I could file it and carve it and chisel it" (letter to Ben Nicholson, October 2, 1966), and the surface of the work bears evidence of this filing and cutting. This working and weathering of the surface renders it almost curiously bone—or stone—like, a man-made sculpture which embodies an organic form, transcending traditional sculptural confines.