Barbara Hepworth: The Family of Man

The Family of Man (1970) is a beautiful representation of a group of figures in a landscape. It is one of the last major works that Barbara Hepworth made before her death. Each of the nine sculptures represents a stage of life. The Family of Man has been on public display at Yorkshire Sculpture Park since 1980.

Hepworth wanted to create a family of figures for a hillside. The Family of Man is both a universal survey of humanity and a personal history. The sculptures become more sophisticated in composition as they mature. Hepworth created abstract forms inspired by people and landscapes. These nine upright figures resemble one another, like the family to which they allude.

Barbara Hepworth is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. She had an influential career spanning over fifty years. At the time, British sculpture and modernism was dominated by men.

Born in Wakefield, Hepworth studied at Leeds School of Art. She was greatly inspired by her early years in Yorkshire. She moved to Cornwall in 1939, where her studio overlooked St Ives bay. Describing the Cornish land and sea, she wrote about how "the quality of light and colour" excited and inspired her. Hepworth loved to carve, and she created sculptures in wood, marble and bronze. She took inspiration from organic forms, nature and landscape.