Dorothy Hepworth (1894–1978) was a British painter who studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1917 to 1919, where she met her life partner Patricia Preece. They remained together even after Preece's marriage to painter artist Stanley Spencer.
Dorothy Hepworth was a shy individual who did not warm to public attention. She was also a talented painter, but she was content to let her partner, Patricia Preece, take the credit for their work. Preece was more outgoing and ambitious, and she was happy to promote herself as a painter. With Hepworth's approval, Preece signed many of Hepworth's paintings as her own.
This deception went on for many years, and it fooled many people, including some of the most famous artists of the day. As Michael Dickens wrote, "The two women not only deceived the Bloomsbury artists, but also other notables in the art world, including Augustus John."
After returning from living in Paris for four years, Hepworth and Preece became part of the Bloomsbury circle. Hepworth's work was displayed at the Royal Academy during her time at the Slade, in 1928 at the Dorothy Warren Gallery, and in 1936 at the Le Feuvre.
Hepworth continued to sign her paintings under the name of Preece even after Preece's death in 1968. She continued to paint up to her death in 1978. A studio sale of Hepworth's work was held at Christie's in 1984, and in 1991 Bloomsbury Workshop held a retrospective exhibition of her paintings and drawings.
It is only in recent years that the truth about Hepworth's contribution to the art world has come to light. She is now recognized as a talented painter in her own right, and her work is increasingly being exhibited and appreciated.