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The opening of Tate St Ives back in 1993 created an academic assessment of 20th century Cornish painting and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, situated near the museum, has established the artist as one of the leading artists of her generation.

The interest in Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) both as artist and wife of Ben Nicholson (1894-1981) is such that Ben Lloyd of Mallams (15% buyer’s
premium) was always assured of the
success of Atlantic Form, right, and Stone Form (Tresco) and two oil on boards offered at their Oxford rooms on October 4.

Measuring 13 by 211/2in (33 x 55cm) and 2ft by 171/2in (61 x 44cm) respectively, both works were consigned to the sale by a direct connection of a friend of the artist who lived in St Ives.

Atlantic Form, signed and dated 1963, was given by the artist to this friend as a 50th birthday present and Stone Form (Tresco) had been bought in 1961 at an exhibition held by Gimpel Fils, the labels for which were still on the verso.

In wholly untouched condition and under glass, both pictures were hotly contested on seven phone lines. Estimated at £6000-8000, Stone Form (Tresco) was knocked down at £15,000 to a London-based fine art agent who then went to £23,000 to take Atlantic Form.