Miniature Divided Circle, 1971 •
Dame Barbara Hepworth
Signed Barbara Hepworth, dated 1971 with foundry mark Morris Singer
Polished bronze with blue-green patina, edition of 9
Height: 8 ¾ inches (22.3 cm)
This work is recorded in the Hepworth Estate as BH 524.
Barbara Hepworth was one of Britain’s most important twentieth century artists. One of the few women artists to achieve international prominence, at the time of her death in 1975 Hepworth was a prominent figure in the international art world, with work in all major museum collections.Hepworth created Miniature Divided Circle in 1971 by casting two solid pieces of plaster, which she then carved and worked to create the hollows. Hepworth was always in essence a carver. The plaster was then sent to the Morris Singer foundry and cast in an edition of 9. Even on the original plaster, now in the collection at Hepworth Wakefield Museum, Hepworth painted it gold with dark blue in the hollows to indicate where Hepworth requested ‘the special blue patination’.
Miniature Divided Circle relates back to the major monumental bronze Two Forms (Divided Circle), 1969. The majority of the edition of 6 are in public collections including Clare College Cambridge, the Bolton Museum, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwest University, Illinois, and the Lola Beer Ebner Sculpture Garden in Tel Aviv. Cast 5/6 was acquired by Greater London Council and displayed in Dulwich Park from 1970 until it was stolen in 2011. Hepworth’s own cast 0/6 was donated by the Tate gallery by Hepworth’s estate and is displayed in her garden at the Barbara Hepworth Museum in St Ives.Hepworth enjoyed exploring the ranging impact and experience her sculpture possessed according to its scale. She believed that size made an ‘absolute difference in treatment and colour’. The monumental version has the colour way reversed with the main body patinated and the inner surfaces polished. Hepworth understood that scale made a key difference in how her sculptures could be enjoyed and understood. The monumental sculptures could be walked around while small works like Miniature Divided Circle were intimate and could be handled. Hepworth said ‘You can climb through the Divided Circle—you don’t need to do it physically to experience it.’Hepworth intended for viewers to engage themselves, either physically or mentally, with her work. Miniature Divided Circle engages the viewer with the highly polished bronze catching the light, creating reflections and contrasting against the textured patinated hollows, which open up the form and lead you through the sculpture. Hepworth returned throughout her career to the relationship between two forms reflecting the different human relationships that are formed including lovers and the mother and child. The bifurcated form also enables the sculpture draws the viewer in, while the narrow spacing between the two halves denies a passage through. This quality, combined with the apparently precarious angle of the two forms, each unique from each other, gives the sculpture a sense of dramatic tension. Hepworth commented: ‘It’s lovely to live with a sculpture because it changes in every possible light ... Everything I make is to touch and people usually do which pleases me’.The scholar and writer F.E. Halliday was born in 1903 in Yorkshire. He graduated in Economics and then in English at King’s College, Cambridge, following which he held the post of head of English at Cheltenham College. In 1948, after spending a year in St. Ives before the war, he moved permanently to the town with his wife Nancibel and he soon became a close friend of Bernard Leach, the Nance family and Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. This sculpture was gifted to Nancie by Hepworth, who also dedicated her pictorial to Frank and Nancibel Halliday ‘who have given me friendship, love and courage for two decades.’