After a period in Italy, Hepworth and Skeaping returned to settle in London, where they both gained reputations and portfolios. Although the couple had a son, Paul, in 1929 their relationship failed to survive and they divorced in 1933. It was during this period that she met artist Ben Nicholson with whom she would eventually move to St Ives.
In 1934, Hepworth and Nicholson became parents of triplets; Simon, Rachel, and Sarah Hepworth-Nicholson. Four years later the couple married and shortly after, with the outbreak of war, she moved to St Ive's, first settling in Carbis Bay. While Hepworth was largely concerned with family life, Nicholson became an influence for emerging local artists such as Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, and John Wells, who formed the separatist Penwith Society of Artists.
After this hiatus, Hepworth returned to the art world with a series of exhibitions and commissions in London. By the late 1940s, the relationship between her and Nicholson had begun to falter. In 1949 she purchased Trewyn Studio (now the Barbara Hepworth Museum) and moved there in 1950 and divorced Nicholson in 1951.
Barbara Hepworth lived and worked at Trewyn Studio for the rest of her life and it was during this period that she produced most of her best-known works of hers. She found the studio inspiring, writing, 'Finding Trewyn Studio was a kind of magic, here was a studio, a patio and a garden where she could work outdoors and in space.'
It was around this time that Barbara Hepworth began to move from her preferred medium of stone and wood towards the bronze that we most associate with her. Many of these castings still remain in St Ives, either at the Trewyn studio or at various locations in the city. The space provided by working outdoors also allowed her to scale up her work.
In 1953, Hepworth's eldest son Paul was killed in a plane crash in Thailand while serving in the RAF. There is a moving monument in the chapel of the Madonna of the church of St Ia, Madonna and Child (Bianco del Mare) that Hepworth carved out of stone.
In 1965, at the age of 62, Hepworth became Dame Barbara Hepworth (Commander of the British Empire) for her contribution to the contemporary art world. The same year she was also appointed a trustee of the Tate Gallery in London.
Hepworth continued to work until the 1970s at the Trewyn studio. However, tragedy struck on May 20, 1975 when Hepworth died in a fire in her study, believed to have been caused by a cigarette that set her bedding on fire. She had been seriously ill for some time before her death, but the accident was a shock nonetheless. Barbara Hepworth is buried in Longstone Cemetery in Carbis Bay with a simple slate headstone marking her grave. To bid for the artworks of this artist, see the artist page of Barbara Hepworth in Bidsquare.