Hepworth Sculptures Among Artworks Acquired For Nation

By Graham Spicer | 27 February 2006
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photo of an abstract smooth wooden sculpture with several wires stretched across it

Barbara Hepworth is one of Britain's most influential 20th century sculptors. Landscape Sculpture (1944). Photo courtesy MLA

Thirty-one important works of art have been acquired for the nation, including ten pieces by influential sculptor Barbara Hepworth and paintings by Turner and Kandinsky.

The objects are together worth more than £4.5m and were obtained through the government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which allows works of art and heritage items to be offered in lieu of inheritance tax.

“As funding for acquisitions becomes increasingly difficult, the Acceptance in Lieu scheme grows in importance and is now vital to our museums and galleries,” said Mark Wood, Chairman of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, which administers the scheme.

The acceptance of the Hepworth sculptures alone settled more than £1.6m of tax. They have been allocated to Tate for display primarily at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives, Cornwall, where they had previously been on loan.

photo of a brooch in the arts and crafts style in the shape of a peacock made of silver and gold and inset with diamonds and pearls

Peacock Brooch by CR Ashbee, one of the leading figures of the Arts and Crafts movement. Photo courtesy MLA

Hepworth is considered one of Britain’s most important artists of the 20th century. Born in 1903, she established her home and studio in St Ives and lived there until her death in 1975. A contemporary of Henry Moore, she is credited as the first artist to produce truly abstract sculptures.

The other items obtained are paintings by JMW Turner and Edward Lear, two Arts and Crafts brooches, three bronze sculptures by Gertrude Spencer Stanhope and a group of 14 paintings, prints and watercolours by modern European artists including Modigliani and Kandinsky.

Turner’s Naples From The Mole, a pencil and watercolour work made in 1817, is part of a series of twenty that are said to have prompted the artist’s first visit to Italy. Only one other work from this series is in a UK collection and a decision on where the new acquisition is to be allocated has yet to be made.

Acceptance in Lieu has been in existence for more than 50 years and has brought thousands of objects into public collections and saved many historic houses and their contents. In the last five years items valued at more than £140m have been acquired through the scheme.

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