Lot 12
  • 12

DAME BARBARA HEPWORTH | Four Figures Waiting

350,000 - 450,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Barbara Hepworth
  • Four Figures Waiting
  • signed, numbered 2/9, dated 1968 and stamped with foundry mark on the Artist's integral base
  • bronze and polished bronze
  • height (including Artist's base): 60cm.; 23 1/2 in.
  • Conceived in 1968, the present work is number 2 from an edition of 9 + 0.


Hepworth Estate
New Art Centre, Salisbury, where acquired by the present owner, 23rd June 1997


New York, Gimpel-Weitzenhoffer Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, April - May 1969, cat. no.10, illustrated (another cast);
Bath, Bath Festival Gallery, St Ives Group, 2nd Exhibition: 1969 Bath Festival, June 1969, cat. no.2 (another cast);
St Ives, Penwith Society of Arts, Penwith Spring Exhibition, Spring 1969, cat. no.7 (another cast);
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Barbara Hepworth Recent Work, Sculpture, Paintings, Prints, February - March 1970, cat. no.12, illustrated p.21 (another cast);
Abbotsholme, Uttoxeter, Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture and Lithographs, January - February 1970, cat. no.14, illustrated p.22 (another cast), with UK tour;
London, Gimpel Fils, Gallery Choice; March - April 1970, cat. no.32 (another cast);
Plymouth, City Art Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, June - August 1970, cat. no.50, illustrated (another cast); 
Hakone, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Barbara Hepworth Exhibition 1970, June - September 1970, cat. no.27, illustrated p.55 (another cast), with tour to Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto;
New York, Gimpel Gallery, Barbara Hepworth, March - April 1971, cat. no.7 (another cast);
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Masters of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Summer 1972, cat. no.30, illustrated p.60 (another cast);
Rome, Marlborough Galleria d’Arte, Maestri del XIX e XX Secolo, November 1972 - January 1973; cat. no.16, illustrated p.28 (another cast);
Zurich, Marlborough Galerie, Barbara Hepworth, August - October 1975, cat. no.6, illustrated p.19 (another cast);
High Wycombe, Burleighfield House (Burleighfield International Arts Centre), Sculptures by Barbara Hepworth, October 1977, (another cast); 
Galashiels, Scottish College of Textiles, Barbara Hepworth: a Selection of Small Bronzes and Prints, April 1978 - March 1979, cat. no.21 (another cast);
Bournemouth, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, The Russell-Cotes Modern Artists Exhibition 1979, January - February 1979 (another cast);
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: Carvings and Bronzes, May - June 1979, cat. no.30, illustrated p.54 (another cast);
Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Museum, Barbara Hepworth: A Sculptor’s Landscape 1934-1974, October 1982 - February 1983, cat. no.21, illustrated p.20 (another cast), with tour to Bangor, Wrexham and Isle of Man;
Roche Court, East Winterslow, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, New Art Centre Sculpture Park and Gallery, Barbara Hepworth Polished Bronzes, December 2001 - February 2002, illustrated (another cast); 
Wakefield, Wakefield Art Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: Polished Bronzes/ Hepworth in Brons: Gepolijste bronzen van Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), May - June 2003, with tour to Museum het Catharina Gasthuis, Gouda (another cast).


Michael Shepherd, 'Gleaming from the Past', The Sunday Telegraph, 15th February 1970, p.17;
Marina Vaizey, 'Gallery Choice: Gimpel Fils', Arts Review, 14th March 1970; 
'Barbara Hepworth: The Artist and Her Work', Bijutsu Techo, August 1970, Vol. 22, no. 331, illustrated p.16;
Alan Bowness, The Complete Sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, 1960-69, Lund Humphries, London, 1971, cat. no. BH461, illustrated pl.12 (another cast);
Janet Axten, Gasworks to Gallery: The Story of Tate St Ives, Janet Axten and Colin Orchard, St Ives, Cornwall, 1995, illustrated p.30 (another cast);
Sophie Bowness (ed.), Barbara Hepworth - The Plasters: The Gift to Wakefield, Lund Humphries in association with The Hepworth Wakefield, Farnham, 2011, illustrated p.40, pl.24 (plaster cast).


The sculpture appears to be sound. There are a number of pits and minor casting imperfections to the surface of the work as a result of the casting process, with some light casting residue in places. There is a very faint minor light scratch to the back of the element to the right of the pierced form, with one or two further tiny possible scuffs visible elsewhere. There are instances of very minor surface dust but this excepting the work appears in excellent overall condition. The forms are securely fastened to the integral bronze base. Please telephone 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 the cataloguing apparatus of the present work, which will feature in her forthcoming revised catalogue raisonné of the Artist's sculpture as BH461.
Conceived in 1968, Four Figures Waiting is an encapsulation of much of the theory that Barbara Hepworth had been investigating throughout her working life. The work draws together the diverse strands of organic-derived forms of the post-war period and the abstract modernist sculpture of the pre-WWII years. In works such as Four Figures Waiting we see the synthesis of Hepworth’s artistic ambitions. The interaction between upright human forms was one that was particularly prevalent in her later works, culminating in the large groups, The Family of Man of 1970 (BH513) and Conversation with Magic Stones of 1973 (BH567). The present sculpture typifies her exploration of the nature and dynamics of human interactions. Throughout her career, Hepworth had been grouping together forms in balanced discursive compositions, but her later sculptures became increasingly related to totemic, primitive figures referencing groups such as the Easter Island stones and Native American structures. 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.

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 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. Hepworth incorporates the concept of positive and negative space into her abstract forms, and she weaves the surrounding space into her sculpture by piercing one standing form to allow light and air to flow through the bronze. This investigation of space then becomes a question of human interaction amongst themselves and their environment. Through an abstract pictorial language, the figures become a universal image of humanity and reflects the artist's fascination with the relationship between man and nature.

Other casts are held in the collection of the Cecil Higgins Museum, Bradford and the Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone, Japan.