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National Galleries of Scotland acquires two major sculptures by Dame Barbara Hepworth
Dame Barbara Hepworth, Rock Form (Porthcurno), 1964. BH 363, bronze, cast 0/6, 243.8cm in height. Provenance: The artist to 1975; estate of the artist from 1975. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Photo: Lynsey Wilson.

EDINBURGH.- Two bronze sculptures, Ascending Form (Gloria) and Rock Form (Porthcurno), by the British sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth have been acquired for the nation by the National Galleries of Scotland through the Government’s Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) scheme.

The works, currently on show at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, will remain in place in the Gardens through a reciprocal arrangement with the National Galleries.

Commenting on the acquisition, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Simon Groom said:

“We are delighted to have secured these two great sculptures by Barbara Hepworth for the collection. They have been on show at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh – the first home of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art – from 1960 to 1984 – for nearly forty years. For all that time they were on loan from the artist's estate; it is wonderful that they can remain here indefinitely. We are indebted to the Acceptance in Lieu procedure, and to the artist's descendants, for making this possible.”

Barbara Hepworth was born in Wakefield in 1903 and became one of the most celebrated sculptors of the twentieth century. Her earlier works were carved in wood and marble, but in the mid-1950s she turned to bronze. Ascending Form (Gloria) 1958, one of her earliest large-scale bronzes, features two diamond shapes, the larger one sitting on top of the smaller one, suggesting growth and upward movement. It has been interpreted as the shape of hands in prayer, a reading reinforced by Hepworth’s renewed spirituality during this period of her life, following the death of her son Paul in 1953. Another cast of Ascending Form (Gloria) is placed at the entrance to the cemetery where Hepworth is buried in St Ives, Cornwall. Visitors to the Botanic Gardens will be familiar with the sculpture which is sited prominently, near to the east entrance from Inverleith Row.

Rock Form (Porthcurno) 1964, by contrast, reflects Hepworth’s on-going interest in the relationship between landscape and human experience. The artist took her inspiration from the rock forms near Porthcurno, a hamlet close to Land’s End, which Hepworth described ‘with its queer caves pierced by the sea.’

The two bronzes have been on permanent display in Edinburgh for nearly forty years. They were placed on loan to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 1976, when the Gallery was sited at Inverleith House in the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. The loans were made by Hepworth’s Estate, following the artist’s death in 1975. When the Gallery moved to new, larger premises in Belford Road in the west of Edinburgh in 1984, the bronzes remained in the grounds at the Royal Botanic Garden.

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