Dorothy Hepworth

Dorothy Hepworth

Hepworth, Dorothy [1898-1978, British]

Hepworth studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1917, and graduated from there with first class honors in 1919. She became the partner of Patricia Preece at the Slade. After graduation, she spent four years with Preece in Paris, where Hepworth studied at the Académie Colarossi and Preece was a pupil of André Lhote. They returned to England in 1925, where they relocated to Cookham for Hepworth's health. The two received financial help from Hepworth's wealthy father to purchase a house there, but Hepworth's father lost his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. Hepworth's father died in 1930, and afterward, Hepworth and Preece experienced much difficulty trying to pay for the mortgage of their home. Hepworth and Preece maintained their relationship after Preece's 1937 marriage to the painter Stanley Spencer, who was obsessed with her. Preece took Hepworth on her honeymoon, while Spencer stayed home to work on a painting. Preece and Hepworth continued to live together after the wedding, and after Preece gained control of Spencer's finances they evicted him from his house in 1938 to rent it out. Preece refused to divorce her hapless husband.
Patricia [born Ruby Vivian] Preece, was an English artist associated with the Bloomsbury Group and the second wife of painter, Stanley Spencer, for whom she modelled. In 1928, they moved to Cookham and befriended the artist Stanley Spencer. Spencer became obsessed with the flirtatious Preece and he showered her with gifts. She persuaded him to divorce his first wife and to sign his house over to her. Preece married Spencer in 1937, but she did not leave Hepworth and refused to have sexual relations with Spencer. After he was knighted in 1959, she insisted on being styled Lady Spencer and claimed a pension as his widow.
Throughout their lives, the gregarious Preece exhibited and sold the shy Hepworth's paintings under her own name, causing the artist, Augustus John, to declare Preece one of the six greatest women artists in England. Until 1996, it was believed that the two collaborated on many of the works. Evidence for Hepworth's creating them herself comes from diaries that the two shared, where Preece admits having had little hand in the creation of the paintings.