Leeds & West Yorkshire

Barbara Hepworth portrait comes home to Wakefield

Barbara Hepworth painting Image copyright Tom Arber
Image caption Simon Wallis, gallery director, said: "I think it's wonderful to see Hepworth come home"

The earliest known portrait of sculptor Barbara Hepworth is to go on display in the gallery named after her.

The picture of the artist was painted in about 1920 and shows her as a 17-year-old. It is to be displayed at the Hepworth Wakefield.

The portrait, from a private collection in the US, has been given to Wakefield Council.

It will be the first time in 90 years the painting has been shown publicly, said the Hepworth.

Simon Wallis, gallery director, said: "I think it's wonderful to see Hepworth come home."

When the portrait, by Ethel Walker, was bought at auction for £1,000 its subject was not identified.

During conservation work it was noticed an inscription on the back indicated the sitter was Barbara Hepworth.

Art historian Dr Sophie Bowness, who is Hepworth's granddaughter, was able to confirm the identity.

The picture is part of an exhibition that opens on Saturday. It is to include family photographs and some of Hepworth's earliest drawings, paintings and sculptures.

The Hepworth Wakefield, which opened in May 2011, is named after the sculptor who was born in the city in 1903.

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