Born: 1901 in South Woodford, Essex.. Died: 1980. Nationality: British.
John Skeaping, R.A. was an English painter, sculptor and designer. He was the eldest son of the painter Kenneth Mathieson. He studied at Goldsmith's College in London, the Central School of Arts and Crafts between 1917 and 1919 and then at the Royal Academy until 1920. In 1924 he won the British Prix de Rome and its scholarship to the British School at Rome.̣
Skeaping was the first husband of the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, whom he met while studying in Rome. The couple had a joint exhibition in 1928 at the Alex Reid and Lefevre Gallery in Glasgow. They married in 1924 but the marriage was dissolved in 1933. While his wife and other sculptors, including their friend Henry Moore, were moving towards abstraction, Skeaping’s work was to remain conventional. He was a member of the London Group from 1928 to 1934, and joined the Seven and Five Society in 1932.
During World War II Skeaping was commissioned to serve with the Intelligence Corps as a War Artist. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1960, having exhibited there since 1922. Skeaping also wrote several books on drawing. From 1948, he taught sculpture at the Royal College of Art and was Professor of Sculpture there from 1953 to 1959.
He became renowned for his many equine sculptures including his 1974 life-size statue of ‘Secretariat’ the champion American thoroughbred racehorse, widely regarded as one of the greatest racehorses of all time, which is exhibited at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Skeaping is represented in a number of notable collections: British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Royal Academy, Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), Windsor Castle Royal Collection, and regional public collections in Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford and Leeds.
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