The miniature Four-Square: Four Circles, a maquette of the scultpure outside of Churchill College Dame Barbara Hepworth, Four-Square (Four Circles), 1966, Sotheby's

Sotheby’s has announced the auction of a miniature version of one of Cambridge's most iconic sculptures, Barbara Hepworth's Four-Square: Walk Through.

The piece will go up for auction on 18th June as part of the art dealer’s Modern & Post-War British Art sale. It will feature alongside works by Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson, as well as L. S. Lowry’s former world auction record winning painting A Cricket Match. The Hepworth miniature, titled Four-Square: Four Circles, is estimated to sell for £200,000-300,000.

Hepworth was keen that viewers physically interact with her work

At 60 cm tall, the bronze sculpture is actually a maquette, a small preliminary study made to be scaled up to full size. The 14 ft piece located in the grounds of Churchill College is one of three final casts, and was donated to the college by the artist in 1968 to replace an earlier loan of her piece Square With Two Circles (1963).

Produced in 1966 at the very height of Hepworth’s career, Four-Square: Walk Through encapsulates the artist’s fascination with through-views. Its impact rests in its simplicity: four large flat squares of bronze stacked into two cubes, each face with a circle cut out. As the title suggests – or insists – Hepworth was keen that viewers physically interact with her work, a believer that ‘you can't experience a sculpture if you don't move, experience it from all vantage-points, see how the light enters it and changes its emphasis.’ The smaller version of the piece will offer a transformed experience from that of outdoor sculpture, the loss of roominess matched with a difference in colour: where Churchill’s sculpture is coated in blue-green patina, Sotheby’s are offering a gleaming bronze house cat of a piece. Hepworth’s fascination with the way light falls through shapes remains consistent, as evoked by the miniature’s altered title of Four-Square: Four Circles.


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Churchill College has been keen to foster artistic practice since its establishment in 1960: in addition to its expansive art collection, it offers an Artist Fellowship scheme, held early on by Henry Moore, and the Sizarship programme to promote student engagement. It remains the only college to boast two pieces painted by its founder: Winston Churchill was an amateur painter in his spare time.

The auction will represent an opportunity for collectors to purchase a small part of Cambridge. The buyer would therefore do well to remember the playful potential of Hepworth’s sculptures: Ascending Form (1958) at Murray Edwards College has come to be known as a faintly gynaecological face-in-the-hole board; Four-Square: Walk Through echoes the lines of a children’s climbing frame, yet also offers Churchill students a striking backdrop for photos. Four-Square: Four Circles will go on to embody and preserve this vibrancy into its next lifecycle.

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