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

Barbara Hepworth

Maquette, Theme and Variations

1903 – 1975

Maquette, Theme and Variations
Painted hardboard elements on a pine backboard
39.5 × 72.5 × 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. Photography Mark Heathcote © Bowness

With its distinctive tripartite background echoing the design of the facade of the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society’s head office, this relief was the original maquette for Hepworth’s proposal made to show to the architects of the building, Healing Overbury. They requested a maquette at the beginning of 1970 on a scale of about 1 inch to 1 foot. Hepworth sent Maquette, Theme and Variations (1970) to Thomas Overbury in April 1970, describing it as ‘my personal sketch for the movement and position I want to achieve for this site. In no way does it represent final thicknesses or textures as all these will grow quite naturally at full scale when I am working with the foundry at the casting. I do hope you can understand this and read into it more than meets the eye? For instance, there will be a great variability between the leaf-like segments and these will all be achieved quite logically when I am working to full scale’.

Although Hepworth preferred to work directly to scale, she must have seen this maquette as something of a success, because she subsequently made an edition derived from this model with the forms in silver on a walnut wood base, and an edition cast in bronze. The layered, semi-circular forms with their suggestion of movement can also be seen in Hepworth’s prints of this time, for example Fragment and Olympus, both from the Aegean Suite (1971).