Barbara Hepworth

1 portrait of Barbara Hepworth

Barbara Hepworth

by Madame Yevonde
bromide print on velvet card mount, 15 February 1968
14 5/8 in. x 11 3/8 in. (373 mm x 288 mm) image size
Given by Madame Yevonde, 1971
Photographs Collection
NPG x12142

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Sitterback to top

  • Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975), Sculptor; second wife of Ben Nicholson. Sitter in 28 portraits, Artist of 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

  • Madame Yevonde (1893-1975), Photographer. Artist associated with 320 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This is one of the photographs taken by Madame Yevonde for her exhibition Some Distinguished Women held in 1968 to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage. Surviving correspondence between Hepworth and Yevonde charts how they arranged to meet at Tate Gallery for the sitting, chose which pose to print and Hepworth's request that the variants be destroyed as she appeared in ill-health. Hepworth was recovering from a fractured hip suffered the previous year. She is seen here touching, almost holding Corinthos (1954-5), which was on display at the time. Her gesture directly referenced by the tactile quality of Yevonde's choice of a velvet mount.

Margaret Gardiner had taken Hepworth on a Greek cruise in August 1954 to recover after the trauma of her son's death the year before. Immediately after her return, inspired by the light and landscape, Hepworth worked on a series of wooden sculptures; Corinthos being the first. Carved from a single piece of guarea, a hardwood specially delivered from Nigeria, Hepworth worked the warm timber by tunnelling through the material in a double spiralling shape.

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Events of 1968back to top

Current affairs

Enoch Powell delivers his 'Rivers of Blood' speech in Birmingham in opposition to anti-discrimination legislation and immigration from the commonwealth. The speech is usually regarded as racist and blamed for stirring up racial prejudice. Powell was sacked from the shadow cabinet as a result, but received considerable public approval at the time for his views.
Fay Sislin becomes England first black woman police officer.

Art and science

Beaton Portraits is the first ever photographic exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Under the directorship of Roy Strong, the exhibition introduced a new, theatrical approach to display, and was so popular that the national press reported on the length of queues to get in and it had to be extended twice.


Civil unrest escalates in France as student protesters, joined by striking workers, clash with the police. The events came to represent the conflict between the new, liberalised, left-wing generation and the forces of authority and conservatism. French protests were mirrored by others abroad including the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia, where political liberalisation was achieved for a few months before the country was invaded by the Soviet Union.

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