Barbara Hepworth long before stardom

Archive photographs of the young artist go on show

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The Independent Culture

The Barbara Hepworth retrospective at Tate Britain this summer will include some long-lost works. So what could be more timely than the unearthing of some rare photographs of the Yorkshire-born artist before she was a famous sculptor?

Old family photographs, some never before published and mostly belonging to her grand-daughter Sophie Bowness, include Hepworth as a baby, in 1903; dressed as Hiawatha, aged three; and with her siblings, aged 12. She can also be seen hanging out aged 17 with Henry Moore and Edna Ginesi  in Paris.

“It was cheaper for Hepworth to go over to Paris than it was to go home to Yorkshire from London. They would visit collections and  galleries while at the Royal College of Art,” says the show’s curator, Eleanor Clayton. The photographs will be on show at the Hepworth Wakefield in Wakefield in May, along with early drawings, paintings, and sculpture.

“This show is particularly about her early promise as an artist from the age of 15 to 18 – you can see how technically skilled she was at figurative drawings and modelling in clay,” says Clayton. “At this point she was a teenager and she was playing by the rules but doing it very well. But once she moved to the Royal College in London she started developing her style and making work in a Modernist style.” 

Hepworth in Yorkshire, The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire, (www.hepworth, 16 May to 6 September