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Art & artists > Our collection > The Hepworth Family Gift >

Barbara Hepworth

Maquette for Monolith

1903 - 1975

Maquette for Monolith
Plaster, painted light brown/light blue, on a new wooden base
32 × 19 × 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


Maquette for Monolith was derived from the 3-metre high bronze Squares with Two Circles. Hepworth saw that sculpture, a particular favourite, as revisiting a major lost work of 1936, Monumental Stela, which shares formal elements of rectilinear planes pierced with a circle or circles (Blue Ancaster stone, destroyed in the war). As with Squares with Two Circles, elements of Maquette for Monolith recall the abstract language of Constructive art outlined in Circle (1937), the publication to which Hepworth contributed alongside Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo. The interrelated shallow planes, textured surface and circular forms made through the two holes, relate to Nicholson’s reliefs of the same period.

Maquette for Monolith is carved from a solid block of plaster. Hepworth took it to the foundry in April 1964, during a period in which she created increasingly monumental public sculptures such as Winged Figure (1962) for John Lewis on Oxford Street, London, and Single Form (1961–4) sited outside the UN building in New York. The title Monolith may also refer to ancient standing stones that Hepworth encountered in Cornwall, such as ‘Men-an-tol’, a bronze age, megalithic structure with a prominent circular opening.