A pioneer in the Modernism movement, English artist and sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth was one of the few female artists of her generation to rise to international acclaim. She was also a leading figure in the St. Ives artist colony during World War II, along with contemporaries such as Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo.
Born in Wakefield, Hepworth attended the Royal College of Art in London before traveling to Florence, Italy. After training under master sculptor Giovanni Ardini, she returned to London to exhibit her early work alongside then-husband and fellow sculptor John Skeaping. Her early work was shaped by abstraction, eventually leading her to involvement with the Paris-based Abstraction-Création movement. She also co-founded the Unite One art movement, seeking to unite Surrealism and abstraction in the British art world.
At the outbreak of the Second World war in 1939, Hepworth, her second husband Ben Nicholson, and their children went to live in Cornwall. Finding her home in Trewyn Studios, she helped usher in St. Ives as a refuge for artists during the war. Co-founding the Penwish Society of Arts with nineteen, Hepworth created works that were exhibited in the British Pavilion at the XXV Venice Biennale in 1950. Today, Hepworth’s name graces two museums housing significant collections of her work in Cornwall and West Yorkshire, and pieces are on display around the world, from London, to New Zealand, to Northwestern University in Evanston.
One of several pieces inspired by time spent in the Aegean Islands following the death of her eldest son Paul in 1953, Aegean (1956) is a bronze sculpture measuring at 11 x 9 x 11 inches. Obtained from a private collection in St. Louis, Aegean has been in private hands since 1962, making this the first time this piece has been available in more than 50 years.
Available as the featured piece in Hindman’s upcoming Post War and Contemporary Art sale, Aegean (1956) by Barbara Hepworth is estimated at $100,000 to $150,000. The sale will take place on Wednesday, May 22 at 10 a.m. at Hindman’s Chicago headquarters, with the catalog available for preview now.