Hepworth sculpture among three modernist works given to nation

Orpheus (Maquette 1) from 1956 will go on display at Hepworth Wakefield gallery in February

A sculpture by Barbara Hepworth is among three works by British modernist artists to be donated to a public collection.

The artist’s bronze sculpture Orpheus (Maquette 1), will go on display at the Hepworth Wakefield gallery in West Yorkshire in February 2020 alongside a sculpture by Denis Mitchell and a painting by William Scott.

The three works were owned by Nancy Balfour, an art collector and senior editor at the Economist, who was chairman and president of the Contemporary Art Society before her death in 1997. It has been given to the nation by her niece, Kate Ashbrook.

The works were donated through the Cultural Gifts Scheme, administered by the Arts Council, which enables UK taxpayers to donate important works of art and other heritage objects in exchange for a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the item they donate. The donation of the three works will generate a tax reduction of £124,500.

The works were gifted to the national collection and then allocated to the Hepworth Wakefield gallery. Opened in 2011, the gallery was named after Hepworth, who was born and brought up in the city.

Hepworth’s piece from 1956, a bronze sculpture on a wooden base, is one of four Orpheus works and an early example of her move from carving predominantly in stone and wood to her inclusion of metals. Stringed and shaped like a parabola, Orpheus (Maquette 1) is thought to be an allusion to the lyre of the mythical musician.

Trevarrack is a 1961 bronze sculpture by Denis Mitchell, who was a prominent member of the St Ives group of artists in Cornwall and Hepworth’s assistant between 1949 and 1959. The work clearly shows her influence.

Small Cornish Landscape by William Scott was painted around 1953. After spending a few months in Cornwall in 1935 and 1936, he returned in the early 1950s to paint the piece. Scott concentrated mostly on still life and produced relatively few Cornish landscapes.

Simon Wallis, the director of the Hepworth Wakefield, said: “We are thrilled that Wakefield’s art collection will receive this generous philanthropic gift. These are three major works of art that will find a perfect home for wide public appreciation and benefit at the Hepworth Wakefield.”

Ashbook said she was pleased the “striking and important works by British modernist artists” had found a permanent home at the Hepworth Wakefield. “My aunt, Nancy Balfour – a commanding figure in the modern-art world – could have found no better place for them to live,” she said.

Edward Harley, who chairs the panel that advises government on the objects offered under the Cultural Gifts Scheme, said: “Hepworth, Mitchell, and Scott were all pre-eminent British modernist artists, and it is fitting that their work should go to the Hepworth Wakefield, one of the foremost museums of modern British art in the UK. I hope that this example will encourage others to use the scheme and continue to support our national collections.”


Frances Perraudin

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Helen Marten wins Hepworth prize for sculpture
Artist applauded for recent Serpentine show receives inaugural award at Hepworth Wakefield gallery

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

17, Nov, 2016 @7:23 PM

Article image
Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans wins Hepworth sculpture prize
Artist who extended possibilities of sculpture with floating light installations takes home £30,000 prize

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

15, Nov, 2018 @8:20 PM

Article image
Barbara Hepworth works raise £2.2m for her old school
Wakefield girls’ high school sell two sculptures to private collectors, despite calls for them to remain with the school

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

14, Jun, 2016 @3:34 PM

Article image
Hepworth Wakefield boosts Yorkshire's sculpture collection
£35m gallery devoted to Barbara Hepworth joins Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Henry Moore Institute to make county a centre for sculpture

Mark Brown, arts correspondent

03, Feb, 2011 @6:54 PM

Article image
Phyllida Barlow on shortlist for Hepworth sculpture prize
Named after Barbara Hepworth, new award recognises UK-based artists at any stage of career – not just those under 50 like Turner prize

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

21, Mar, 2016 @12:01 AM

Article image
Barbara Hepworth sculpture stolen from London park

Thieves took bronze work, possibly with resale of the metal in mind, after apparently driving into Dulwich park in the night

Mark Brown, arts correspondent

20, Dec, 2011 @1:39 PM

Article image
From Hepworth to Rodin: UK sculpture collection to be catalogued online
Thousands of publicly owned artworks to be listed in database over next two years

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

21, Feb, 2019 @6:00 PM

Article image
Barbara Hepworth sculptures could fetch £1m for her old school
Sculptures by British artist bought by school will be sold through Sotheby’s in bid to raise £1m

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

02, May, 2016 @10:00 AM

Article image
Yorkshire sculpture festival hopes to be a force for change
Event arguably makes Leeds and Wakefield area best place in Europe to see sculpture

Lanre Bakare

23, Jun, 2019 @1:14 PM

Article image
Hepworth sculpture prize winner vows to share £30,000 award
Helen Marten says she will split her winnings with the three other nominees as ‘hierarchical position of art prizes is flawed’

Nadia Khomami

18, Nov, 2016 @1:31 PM