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Single Form (Nocturne), Barbara Hepworth

A black marble sculpture in the spae of a tear drop with a hole in its centre.

Barbara Hepworth, Single Form, Nocturne, 1968, Irish black marble on wood base, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Hussey Bequest, Chichester District Council, 1985) © Bowness, Hepworth Estate

At a glance

Artist: Barbara Hepworth

Date: 1968

Materials: Irish black marble on wood base

Acquisition: Hussey Bequest, Chichester District Council (1985)


In 1964, Barbara Hepworth stated, ‘I love marble especially because of its radiance in the light, its hardness, precision and response to the sun.’ Hepworth had learned how to carve marble while a student in Italy in the early 1920s. Carving remained at the heart of her practice. Over the subsequent decades, she worked with a variety of materials and made nearly 600 works.

In Single Form (Nocturne), the surface of the marble has been smoothed to a finish that makes it exceptionally responsive to light. Hepworth was committed to the idea of truth to materials, which meant she highlighted and celebrated the specific qualities of the stone, metal, or wood she worked with.

Hepworth was a leading figure in modernist sculpture and her work was instrumental in the move towards abstraction in British art. Hepworth moved to the town of St Ives in Cornwall in 1939. After the restrictions of the war years, Hepworth moved to Trewyn Studio, which became her home and studio until she died in 1975. Taking advantage of the light and mild Cornish climate, Hepworth liked to carve outdoors and considered light and space to be as much a sculptor’s material to work as wood or stone.