Two sculptures gifted to Wakefield Girls High School by the iconic 20th century artist Barbara Hepworth have sold for £2.2m at Sotheby’s. Hepworth attended the school from the age of six and left in 1920, aged 17. The renowned artist’s works ‘Quiet Form’ and ‘Forms in Movement’ were sold by the auctioneers in London yesterday.
The school said that proceeds from the sale will be used to help provide new bursaries and “enhanced opportunities for students”. There is however dissent in the way the sale was handled by the school with the decision to sell the art criticised by some ex-pupils. Dr Carol Atack, said: “When I was at the school the sculptures were on display and a great inspiration to girls. “I don’t think what we are being told adds up.” Dr Atack said she had been contacted by other old girls who were also unhappy the works were being sold.
Quiet Form, carved in marble in 1973, went for £1,865,000. Forms in Movement, made of bent copper, realised £365,000. Diane Watson, a school governor, said the “unfortunate decision” was taken to sell the sculptures due to rising costs. “They haven’t been displayed for a long period due to the rising value of the insurance cost,” she explained. “All the money from the sale will be used for the benefit of present girls and future students, to fund a bursary.”
Hepworth( born Wakefield in 1903) was married to the artist John Skeaping and then to artist Ben Nicholson. She attended Leeds School of Art in the 1920s and opened a studio in St Ives, Cornwall, in 1949. The artist and sculptor was made a CBE in the 1958 New Year Honours list and made a Dame in 1965. She died in a fire at her studio in 1975. Last year saw a large retrospective exhibition of her work at Tate Britain.