I understand
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1903 – 1975

75 × 40.5 × 30.5 cm
Presented by the artist’s daughters, Rachel Kidd and Sarah Bowness, through the Trustees of the Barbara Hepworth Estate and the Art Fund


The two Coré plasters were derived from a Serravezza marble carving of 1955–6, Marble Form (Coré), for the purpose of casting a bronze in 1960 at the Art Bronze Foundry. The white plaster Coré has a bone-like ivory finish with a fine sheen, and a green coating on its surface that is a residue from casting. The black version of the same plaster was exhibited in St Ives’ Parish Churchyard during the celebrations for the conferment of the Freedom of St Ives on Hepworth in 1968, showing that Hepworth sometimes viewed her plaster models as finished, exhibitable sculptures.

From the vantage point of her Tate retrospective of 1968, Hepworth related Coré back to early carvings such as her figure of a girl, Torso (1929). Suggestions of a head can be read in the circular indentation and curved incision, and the title refers to Ancient Greek female figure sculptures of the sixth century BC, known as kore (korai in the plural), and koré or coré in French. Hepworth saw korai sculptures on her visit to Greece in the summer of 1954, and also owned a postcard of a marble kouros torso of c. 550BC from Actium, in the Louvre, which she may have bought on a visit to Paris before the war. Hepworth’s Coré shares the upright stance, poise and sensuous curves characteristic of Greek korai.