A sculpture by Barbara Hepworth is among three works by British modernist artists to be donated to a public collection.
The artist’s bronze sculpture Orpheus (Maquette 1), will go on display at the Hepworth Wakefield gallery in West Yorkshire in February 2020 alongside a sculpture by Denis Mitchell and a painting by William Scott.
The three works were owned by Nancy Balfour, an art collector and senior editor at the Economist, who was chairman and president of the Contemporary Art Society before her death in 1997. It has been given to the nation by her niece, Kate Ashbrook.
The works were donated through the Cultural Gifts Scheme, administered by the Arts Council, which enables UK taxpayers to donate important works of art and other heritage objects in exchange for a tax reduction based on a set percentage of the value of the item they donate. The donation of the three works will generate a tax reduction of £124,500.
The works were gifted to the national collection and then allocated to the Hepworth Wakefield gallery. Opened in 2011, the gallery was named after Hepworth, who was born and brought up in the city.
Hepworth’s piece from 1956, a bronze sculpture on a wooden base, is one of four Orpheus works and an early example of her move from carving predominantly in stone and wood to her inclusion of metals. Stringed and shaped like a parabola, Orpheus (Maquette 1) is thought to be an allusion to the lyre of the mythical musician.
Trevarrack is a 1961 bronze sculpture by Denis Mitchell, who was a prominent member of the St Ives group of artists in Cornwall and Hepworth’s assistant between 1949 and 1959. The work clearly shows her influence.
Small Cornish Landscape by William Scott was painted around 1953. After spending a few months in Cornwall in 1935 and 1936, he returned in the early 1950s to paint the piece. Scott concentrated mostly on still life and produced relatively few Cornish landscapes.
Simon Wallis, the director of the Hepworth Wakefield, said: “We are thrilled that Wakefield’s art collection will receive this generous philanthropic gift. These are three major works of art that will find a perfect home for wide public appreciation and benefit at the Hepworth Wakefield.”
Ashbook said she was pleased the “striking and important works by British modernist artists” had found a permanent home at the Hepworth Wakefield. “My aunt, Nancy Balfour – a commanding figure in the modern-art world – could have found no better place for them to live,” she said.
Edward Harley, who chairs the panel that advises government on the objects offered under the Cultural Gifts Scheme, said: “Hepworth, Mitchell, and Scott were all pre-eminent British modernist artists, and it is fitting that their work should go to the Hepworth Wakefield, one of the foremost museums of modern British art in the UK. I hope that this example will encourage others to use the scheme and continue to support our national collections.”