Barbara Hepworth - Sphere with colour (Grey and white).

Much of Hepworth’s sculptural work is white, or sometimes black or bronze. She also made some work of hard Nigerian guaranteed wood, which was sent to her by a friend. Her work often has the theme of pregnancy or childbirth, including abstract figures with a rounded, womb-like hole. The idea of “pierced” shapes was taken up by other sculptors at the time, notably Henry Moore. Hepworth had a son by her first marriage, and subsequently triplets when married to the artist Ben Nicholson.

This sculpture, unlike Hepworth’s mainly white sculptures, is carved from striped green marble. The indents, when viewed at a distance (at least 6 ft with one eye closed is best) as you walk around, appear to be floating above the surface, like moons orbiting a planet.

1964, the year before this sculpture is officially dated, was the 4th centenary of Galileo’s birth. He is famous for his use of the new technology of the telescope in observing Jupiter’s moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Hepworth had Italian friends, who could easily have written to her with letters bearing the contemporary postage stamps commemorating Galileo. Magazine articles were published at the time about new observations of Jupiter, which would have been easily visible shining brightly in the night sky from her studio in St Ives, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 

However, Sphere with colour (Grey and White) has only three moon-like indents, whereas Jupiter has four main moons, as discovered by Galileo. Returning to Hepworth’s more common theme of pregnancy and motherhood, the question arises again, why only three indents? 

Hepworth had four children; three were triplets. Could this refer to the triplets? Or could it be telling us about her oldest son Peter, an RAF pilot who was killed in a plane crash in Thailand ten years earlier (1953)? Mourning her son, she may have felt like a planet missing its moon.

8 Items in this Learning Collection
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object
Collection Object

Copyright
All Rights Reserved ()

Charity (La Charité)

Accession Number
1895.96

Title
Charity (La Charité)

Artist(s)
William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Artist Nationality
French (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1859

Medium & Support
oil on canvas

Dimensions
54 ⅞ in x 44 ¼ in x 2 ½ in (139.38 cm x 112.4 cm x 6.35 cm);54 ⅞ in x 44 ¼ in x 2 ½ in (139.38 cm x 112.4 cm x 6.35 cm)

Subject matter
Charity was a popular theme for many 19th-century artists and a subject, which Bouguereau revisited throughout his career. He studied the work of Renaissance masters and was greatly influenced by Classical and early Italian Renaissance art, drawing much of his subject matter from mythological, classical and biblical stories. In “Charity” the carefully arranged poses, highly finished surface, restrained yet rich palette, and dramatic use of light, which are hallmarks of Bouguereau's style, serve to idealize and ennoble the subject.

Physical Description
Painting of a woman holding two sleeping nude babies, wearing white fabric draped over her head and shoulders with abundant blue-green fabric wrapped and loosely gathered around the rest of her body standing in front of a lush background with areas of blue sky peaking through the foliage.

Primary Object Classification
Painting

Primary Object Type
figure painting

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Figures
allegory
baby
modern and contemporary art
mother
mothers
saint
sons (people)
trees
woods

13 Related Resources

Childbearing, birth, midwifery, maternity
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Families
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Exploring Gender and Sexuality
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Mothers and Children
(Part of 10 Learning Collections)
Fourth Grade: Getting Along
(Part of: Docent Curricular Tours)
Protection Tour
(Part of: Docent Thematic Tours)
Essay: Bouguereau
(Part of: Docent Essays on UMMA Collection Objects)
Essay: Bouguereau
(Part of: Essays)
Rural Realism 
(Part of: HISTART 271: Origins Of Modernism: Art And Culture In Nineteenth Century France)
Visual Art and Medicine Elective
(Part of: Medicine and Art)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 2nd floor ➜ 206 (Thomas H. and Polly W. Bredt Gallery)