Theatre Group No. 3

Dame Barbara Hepworth, 1903 - 1975

Theatre Group No. 3

Dame Barbara Hepworth 1903 - 1975


Barbara Hepworth stated that upon viewing this operation she was struck by the 'extraordinary beauty of purpose and coordination' of the surgeons and nurses. She saw this operation as an animated kind of abstract sculpture. The painting depicts an operating theatre scene with gowned medics working on a patient. The patient is covered with a sheet and is on an operating table in the centre of the picture. There is a light source coming from the upper left. The painting is in oil paint, wax and pencil, largely in the dual colours of green and white, with some grey tones. There are some textural areas with scraping on board. Soft pencil has been used to develop dark tone, especially around the masks. This drawing belongs to a group of operating theatre drawings from 1947-49.

Display Label

Theatre Group No 3 1947 Barbara Hepworth 1903-75 Pencil, oil, wax crayon and scratching out on paper mounted on board Hepworth drew a series of operating theatre studies from 1947-9. She observed operations at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital in Exeter at the invitation of Norman Capener, a surgeon who had treated her daughter. Hepworth was struck by the 'extraordinary beauty of purpose and coordination' of the surgeons and nurses, saying, ‘There is, it seems to me, a very close affinity between the work and approach both of physicians and surgeons, and painters and sculptors. In both professions we have a vocation and we cannot escape the consequences of it.’ Purchased from the Reid and Lefevre Galleries, London, in 1948, the year that the NHS was founded 1948.135

Object Name

Theatre Group No. 3

Creators Name

Dame Barbara Hepworth

Date Created



unframed: 34.5cm x 49.5cm
framed: 47cm x 62.2cm

accession number


Place of creation





crayon (coloured)
oil paint
scratching out

On Display

[G7] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 7
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