DAME BARBARA HEPWORTH DBE (1903-1975)
ST IVES SCHOOL (founded c.1929)
Madonna and Child (England, 1953)
Oil and pencil on panel
Signed and dated September 1953
Professor Lawrence Ogilvie, purchased from the artist
Description / Expertise
At her most vulnerable and tender, in a memorial to her son Paul, Barbara Hepworth drew a moving figurative monument The Madonna and Child, which was to be sculpted and placed in the church in St.Ives.
This emotional work brought to a conclusion the drawings of models and surgeons that she had begun in the second half of the 1940's. It forms the bridge between her studies of mankind within a closed environment and points the way to the sculptural abstraction of the human form and its relationship to the landscape.
Barbara Hepworth is the most internationally celebrated sculptress in Britain this century. The raison d'etre of her work was the expression of the human body and spirit inhabiting the landscape. She endeavoured to translate the fusion between man within the universe; to create sculpture as an act of supplication to God and creation, 'At an early stage I became troubled about the `graven image', but I decided that it was sin, only when the image sought to elevate the pretensions of man instead of man praising God and his universe.'(1)
For Hepworth sculpture was the fundamental art form. One that seeks to explain the eternal structure of being; craftsmanship in a primitive form; one of touch, texture, size and scale, exploiting the basic senses of our existence. In projecting this ideology, Hepworth produced work of immense power. Her sculpture is a statement of life. She believed that despite the various dimensions of our civilisation, we are primitive beings and that that expression through observation and drawing was the only true way of becoming as one with our surroundings.
'It is a primitive world; but a world of infinite subtle meaning. Nothing we ever touch or feel, or see and love, is ever lost to us. From birth to old age it is retained like the warmth of rocks, the coolness of grass and the everflow of the sea.'(2)
1. Barbara Hepworth, Drawings from a Sculptor's Landscape, New York, 1966, page 10
2. op.cit., page 13