This high resolution captures of Hepworth’s Orpheus (Maquette 1), is one of four ‘Orpheus’ works, three of which were editions. This sculpture is an early example of Hepworth’s move from carving predominantly in stone and wood, to working with bronze and brass. Stringed and shaped like a parabola, Orpheus (Maquette I) may be an allusion to the lyre of the mythical musician.
This sculpture marks a material departure in Hepworth’s practice in the 1950s when she began working with metal to create fluid forms. Hepworth noted of the Orpheus series, ‘I found the most intense pleasure in this new adventure in material – and revelled in the lightness of poise and delicacy of forms which seemed nearer to the flight of birds and their form in flight rather than to more gravity-bound rocks and humans’. The title Orpheus refers to the musician and poet in Greek mythology and reflects Hepworth’s revived interest in ancient mythology following a trip to Greece in 1954. This work was the original maquette for the kinetic sculpture, Theme on Electronics (Orpheus) completed in 1956 as a commission for the electronic company, Mullards Ltd. Its base contained a motor which caused the sculpture to rotate, echoing and amplifying the theme of dynamic movement.