Born in South Woodford, Essex, Skeaping studied at Goldsmith's College, London, and later at the Royal Academy. 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, with whom he exhibited during the 1920s. He was a member of the London Group, and later worked for a period in Mexico. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1960. He latterly lived in Devon near the village of Chagford and moved to the Camargue, France in 1959. A BBC documentary One Pair of Eyes - John Skeaping (1970) directed by David Cobham was produced for BBC TV during Skeaping's time there. The Tate Gallery owns eight works by Skeaping.
Marble heads dating from London, c. 1927 of Barbara Hepworth by Skeaping, and of Skeaping by Hepworth are documented by photograph in the Retrospective catalogue, but are both believed lost. A stone head of Arthur Lett-Haines dates from 1933, when Skeaping was living in the artists' colony at the house of Sir Cedric Morris after the breakup of his marriage to Hepworth. A bronze sketch (1978) of Skeaping exists by Sally Arnup.
- John Skeaping 1901-80: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Arthur Ackermann and Son, London, 1991 p. 7.
- John Skeaping 1901-80: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Arthur Ackermann and Son, London, 1991 p. 67.
- John Skeaping. Drawn from Life: An Autobiography. London (1977)
- One Pair of Eyes - John Skeaping (1970) David Cobham BBC TV - full version available in various web repositories.
- 2011: The Sculpture of John Skeaping, Jonathan Blackwood (Lund Humphries); 978-0-85331-931-3
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