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About this work

This print was created on a torn page from a ring-bound sketch book. It is a portrait of the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, where her features are reduced to a few simple lines. 1933 was Ben Nicholson’s most productive year in the linocut medium. His relationship with Barbara Hepworth had a decisive impact on his imagery and in 1932-3 Nicholson, for the only time in his career, made the human figure or profile one of the chief subjects of his compositions. The single profile head was one of the most important of all Nicholson’s linocuts, of which he pulled at least fourteen impressions. A photograph taken by Barbara Hepworth of Nicholson’s studio in 1933 shows three other impressions pinned to the walls. Read more.

Who is Ben Nicholson?

Ben Nicholson was the son of the painter William Nicholson. After marrying Winifred Roberts, during the 1920s he travelled widely and lived with her between Cumberland, London, Paris and Switzerland. Following a period experimenting with a post-Cézanne manner, Nicholson developed a consciously ‘primitive’ landscape style in 1927, further encouraged by his encounter with the art of Alfred Wallis. Between 1931 and 1939 he lived in London in close proximity to many artists and critics such as Moore, Piper, Martin, Ede and Herbert Read. He met Arp, Brancusi, and later Mondrian, Gabo and Jean Hélion. The influence of these artists led him to develop a highly abstract style of the late 1930s, for which he is most famous. In 1931 he met Barbara Hepworth, who would become his second wife. He returned to St. Ives during the war with Hepworth, Gabo and Stokes and established an international reputation in the 1950s and 60s.

Where can I see it?

This print is currently on show alongside two works by Barbara Hepworth at the Fitzwilliam Museum in the Being Modern display.