SYDNEY HARPLEY RA FRBS (1927-1992)

The work of Sydney Harpley always surprised and delighted: dancers, acrobats, girls on swings were posed and executed with equal audacity and elegance. read more...

The work of Sydney Harpley always surprised and delighted: dancers, acrobats, girls on swings were posed and executed with equal audacity and elegance. Establishing the single female as his favourite subject while still as student, he rose to become the most popular sculptor, not only among Royal Academicians but among all who exhibited at the Royal Academy Sumer Exhibitions.

Sydney Harpley was born in Fulham, London on 9 April 1927. The son of an electrician and cabinet maker, he grew up in Dagenham, and spent the war years as an evacuee in Berkshire and Bedfordshire. Though talented in both art and music, he left school at the age of fourteen to take up an apprenticeship as an electrician. He went on to work at an American air base, and would later cite aircraft as a formative influence on his artistic development, describing planes as ‘sculptures in space’. Even more instrumental in his decision to become a sculptor was his encounter with the carved head of Ramases II, in Cairo, during National Service with the Royal Engineers (1945-48). On his return home, hÃe took evening classes in drawing while working at a factory in Roehampton making artificial limbs. In 1951, he became a full-time student of sculpture at Hammersmith School of Art, and two years later began to study under John Skeaping at the Royal College of Art.

While still a student, Harpley established the single female figure as his favourite form; he exhibited examples at the Young Contemporaries and at the Royal Academy, and sold his first pieces to the National Gallery of New Zealand and the artist Fleur Cowles. In 1956, the year of his first marriage, he returned to Hammersmith as a part-time teacher and began to receive commissions for portrait busts and public figure groups. In 1963, he fully eÀstablished himself, winning a competition to create a portrait memorial to Jan Smuts, and being elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. From 1972, he taught part-time at Leicester polytechnic, and while there met his second wife Jo, an art historian specialising in costume. Marrying in 1981, they moved to Radigan Farm, Somerset (1986) and then to Kilkenny, in Ireland (1989). At the height of his career, Harpley became a Royal Academician (ARA 1974, RA 1981) and had a number of successful international solo shows, including two at the Chris Beetles Gallery in 1987 and 1990. He died in Dublin on 9 March 1992.


The estate of Sydney Harpley is represented by Chris Beetles Ltd.

CatsBallet & DanceSwimming & DivingFairy & Fantasy
SculptureModern British - Paintings & DrawingsFiguresNudes
Fashion   
SWIMMER by SYDNEY HARPLEY

SWIMMER

BASIA ON A HAMMOCK I by SYDNEY HARPLEY

BASIA ON A HAMMOCK I

GIRL IN FURS by SYDNEY HARPLEY

GIRL IN FURS

GIRL ON A HAMMOCK READING by SYDNEY HARPLEY

GIRL ON A HAMMOCK READING

LE LAC DE CYGNE by SYDNEY HARPLEY

LE LAC DE CYGNE

GIRL ON A BICYCLE by SYDNEY HARPLEY

GIRL ON A BICYCLE

BACK STROKE by SYDNEY HARPLEY

BACK STROKE

RAINING by SYDNEY HARPLEY

RAINING

L'APRES MIDI by SYDNEY HARPLEY

L'APRES MIDI

BASIA ON HER ELBOW by SYDNEY HARPLEY

BASIA ON HER ELBOW

BASIA ON A HAMMOCK by SYDNEY HARPLEY

BASIA ON A HAMMOCK

RECLINING WOMAN WITH A CAT by SYDNEY HARPLEY

RECLINING WOMAN WITH A CAT

NUDE TURNING by SYDNEY HARPLEY

NUDE TURNING

NUDE READING by SYDNEY HARPLEY

NUDE READING

GIRL IN A LONG DRESS RECLINING by SYDNEY HARPLEY

GIRL IN A LONG DRESS RECLINING

CHANGEMENT by SYDNEY HARPLEY

CHANGEMENT

FEMALE NUDE by SYDNEY HARPLEY

FEMALE NUDE

LA BALANCOIRE by SYDNEY HARPLEY

LA BALANCOIRE

YOUNG WOMAN UNDRESSING by SYDNEY HARPLEY

YOUNG WOMAN UNDRESSING

PORTRAIT HEAD by SYDNEY HARPLEY

PORTRAIT HEAD

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