Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth (January 10, 1903 – May 20, 1975) was an English artist and sculptor. She was one of the few women artists to achieve international prominence. Along with artists such as Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo, Hepworth was a leading figure in the colony of artists who resided in St Ives during the Second World War. Hepworth was the eldest child of Gertrude and Herbert Hepworth. She attended Wakefield Girls' High School, and won a scholarship to and studied at the Leeds School of Art from 1920. It was there that she met her fellow student, Henry Moore. They became friends and established a friendly rivalry that lasted professionally for many years. Hepworth was the first to sculpt the pierced figures that are characteristic of works by both. They would lead in the path to modernism in sculpture. She then won a county scholarship to the Royal College of Art (RCA) and studied there from 1921 until she was awarded the diploma of the Royal College of Art in 1924. Following her studies at the RCA, Hepworth went to Florence, Italy, in 1924 on a West Riding Travel Scholarship. Hepworth was also the runner-up for the Prix-de-Rome, which the sculptor John Skeaping won. After traveling together through Siena and Rome, Hepworth married Skeaping on May 13, 1925 in Florence.
In Italy, Hepworth learned how to carve marble from the master sculptor, Giovanni Ardini. Their son Paul was born in London in 1929. In 1933, Hepworth travelled with Ben Nicholson to France, where they visited the studios of Jean Arp, Pablo Picasso, and Constantin Brâncuşi. Hepworth later became involved with the Paris-based art movement, Abstraction-Création. In 1933, Hepworth co-founded the Unit One art movement with Nicholson and Paul Nash, the critic Herbert Read, and the architect Wells Coates. The movement sought to unite Surrealism and abstraction in British art. Hepworth also helped raise awareness of continental artists amongst the British public. Hepworth lived in Trewyn Studios in St Ives from 1949 until her death in 1975. In 1950, works by Hepworth were exhibited in the British Pavilion at the XXV Venice Biennale alongside works by Matthew Smith and John Constable. During this period, Hepworth moved away from working only in stone or wood and began to work with bronze. Hepworth also experimented with lithography in her late career. She produced two lithographic suites with the Curwen Gallery and its director Stanley Jones, one in 1969 and one in 1971. Barbara Hepworth died in an accidental fire at her Trewyn studios on 20 May 1975 at the age of 72.