Dame Barbara Hepworth
Fenestration of the Ear (The Hammer) 1948

Artwork details

Fenestration of the Ear (The Hammer)
Date 1948
Medium Oil paint and graphite on board
Dimensions Support: 384 x 270 x 6 mm
frame: 575 x 460 x 45 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1976
On loan to Arp Museum (Remagen, Germany)

Display caption

Hepworth made a number of paintings based on her close observation of surgical operations. This is one of a series showing different stages of a delicate procedure to correct hearing loss. She was impressed by the 'the extraordinary beauty of purpose and co-ordination' of the surgeons and nurses, and observed how 'that unity... dictated a perfection of concentration, movement and gesture and... induced a spontaneous space composition'. Coinciding with the launch of the National Health Service, the harmony of this work took on a wider symbolism for an artist who believed passionately in the Welfare State.

August 2004

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