John Skeaping, British (1901 - 1980)

Born in South Woodford, Essex, Skeaping studied at Goldsmith's College, London, and later at the Royal Academy. He was the first husband of the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, with whom he exhibited during the 1920s. He was a member of the London Group, and later worked for a period in Mexico. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1960.

Skeaping became ARA in 1951, RA in 1959, and Professor of Sculpture at RCA where he remained until a serious illness and operation force him to retie in 1959. He settled in the Camargue in France where he spent the rest of his life; he was a fine horseman and used to break horses and round up cattle in the Camargue.

Skeaping’s work was very individual and full of action; he felt that self expression was an artist’s strength and that is was a wrong approach to create art to try and please the public, although this was sometime essential. He believed the “dramatic emphasis can only be accomplished by exaggeration and/or elimination”.

He worked with great economy of line in a variety of mediums including oil, gouache, pastel and bronze. He subject matters included racing of all types; flat, fences and harness. He also painted the rounds ups on the Camargue, greyhound racing and a wide variety of wild animals.

Skeaping was one of the leading artists of the twentieth century, he also produced powerful bronzes and wood sculptures, sculpture being a major part of his work from 1920’s onward. These also included architectural sculptors and Church carvings.

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