BRAFA in the Galleries runs from January 27-31 and we will feature British paintings and works on paper by Auerbach and Kossoff, and sculpture by Butler, Chadwick and Moore. Contemporary sculpture by gallery artist Sean Henry and Korean artist Kwang Young Chun is included.
BRAFA have invited exhibitors from across Europe to produce videos with tours round their galleries and features on their chosen highlights from the fair. In our video for the fair we discuss the iconic life size early Teddy Boy and Girl by Lynn Chadwick. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO
Head of JYM III, 1980
Chalk and charcoal on paper
76.2 x 58.4 cm.
Marlborough Fine Art, London
Private Collection (purchased from the above)
William Feaver, Frank Auerbach, published by Rizzoli, no. 428
Frank Auerbach ‘Recent Work’ 13 January – 11 February, 1983, Cat No 31, Marlborough Fine Art, London
Auerbach met Juliet Yardley Mills in 1956, when she was working as a model at Sidcup College of Art. He began to paint her the following year, and continued to do so, at his studio in Camden, every Wednesday and Sunday, until 1997. As with all his repeated sitters, Auerbach developed an acute awareness of posture and mood:
I notice something when people first come and sit and think, they do things with their faces. It’s when they’ve become tired and stoical the essential head becomes clearer. They become more themselves as they become tired. ₁
JYM was an ideal sitter, capable of holding poses for long periods of time. At first Auerbach painted her without identification in his titles, although she is distinguishable from his previous frequent subject, Stella West (EOW). A characteristic pose shows JYM seated, her head against the back of the chair or supported by linked hands. As Robert Hughes notes, she always returns the artist’s gaze, and ‘there is a look – head cocked back, sometimes seen a little from below, a bit quizzical, sometimes challenging – that makes [her portraits] quite recognizable as a series’. ₂
Auerbach’s drawings evolve and assume their final form across weeks of sittings. A day’s work may be scrubbed back, the following morning, to leave an accumulated deposit of charcoal. In some cases the paper wears perilously thin and needs to be patched. The finished drawing represents the last sitting, the most recent thoughts, yet Auerbach feels compelled to retain the accumulated traces as part of a process of securing the image within its own space and atmosphere. ₃
Head of JYM III gazes partially downwards. There is a weight and solidity that derives from the density of charcoal, implying the settled mass of the sitter, at ease, one shoulder higher than the other. The volume of her head is registered through its eye sockets, cheekbones and chin. Through these we gain an intuition of its totality, and how it might feel to follow the head round, past its visible limits.
₁ William Feaver, Frank Auerbach (Rizzoli, 2009), p. 20.
₂ Robert Hughes, Frank Auerbach (London: Thames & Hudson, 1990), p. 80.
₃ Feaver, Frank Auerbach, p. 19.
Study for Sacrificial Figure, 1952
Gilded shell bronze and wire
20 x 23.5 x 15 cm.
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York
Offer Waterman, London
Private Collection, UK, Leeds
Osborne Samuel, London
The Sculpture of Reg Butler , Margaret Garlake, published by the Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, 2006, cat, no.110, illustrated in colour Plate 8, p.22
British Surrealism in Context: A Collector’s Eye, published by Jeremy Millings Publishings, 2009 to accompany the exhibition of the same title at Leeds City Art Gallery, 10th July – 1st November , 2009, p.127
Hanover Gallery, London, 1954
Curt Valentin, 1955, Cat no. 15
J B Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, Reg Butler ‘A Retrospective Exhibition , October 22 – December 1, 1963, cat no.49
Museum of Modern Art (Mima), British Surrealism & Other Realities, Middlesborough, 23 May -17 August, 2008
Leeds Art Gallery, British Surrealism in Context: A Collector’s Eye, 10th July – 1st November , 2009,
Hepworth Wakefield, Post-War British Sculpture and Painting, 5 May 2012 – 3 November 2013
Reg Butler’s powerful Study for Sacrificial Figure was conceived concurrently with his prizewinning submission for ‘The Unknown Political Prisoner’ competition in 1952. Suggesting an elongated horse’s head, it appears half-flesh, half-skeleton, with sockets for eyes and twisted cage for a muzzle.
Butler created two sculptures titled Study for Sacrificial Figure, both exhibited at his solo Hanover Gallery exhibition in 1954. ₁ Tantalisingly, there is no visual record of the larger unlocated work, yet a context for both can be amplified through chronologically adjacent sculptures. Early maquettes for the ‘Unknown Political Prisoner’ monument (1952) imply confined figures, St Catherine (relief) (1953) consists of a wheel and racked torso, while the subject of Study for Figure Falling (1953) twists convulsively within its frame: all are victims. Through them, we can trace Butler’s interest in Germaine Richier’s sculpture, with its emphasis on the metamorphic, mutilated figure, as well as a close reading of Freud, focusing on notions of the ‘primitive’, the fetish and the sacrificial object.
Between 1951 and 1952 Butler had fluctuated between using iron, to create forged and welded sculpture, and a new technique: shell bronze. The process was laborious, involving creating a model, then a plaster mould, ‘pasting’ on shell bronze using oxyacetylene, then welding the cast sections together. Its principal advantage lay in the ability to replicate detail with great sensitivity, its disadvantage in the time required to patinate the resulting sculpture by gilding. Yet the technique’s liberating potential is instantly apparent. Butler had begun to feel constrained by the dominance of iron, as well as a need, in his sculpture, ‘to establish a greater physical presence, more directly related to the subject’. ₂ In Study for Sacrificial Figure the wax, poured and modelled over an armature, remains visible in the casting as a molten skin: an effect both tactile and shocking in its immediacy.
Butler’s Study for Sacrificial Figure was included in a solo exhibition at New York’s Curt Valentin Gallery in 1955. Reviewing it for The New York Times, Stuart Preston considered Butler to be one of the most vital artists to have emerged in Britain since the war. He identified Marini’s influence, in figures that were ‘strained, almost tormented, in their expressive distortions’, continuing,
They are stripped down to bone and muscle to which skin clings tightly as cerements. Economical and tense, heads thrown back and legs and arms akimbo, they electrify the space about them. ₃
Vital to this ability to animate space was the inclusion of plates, blocks and protruding wires, suggesting the sculptures’ means of construction at the same time as connecting them to the real world. In Study for Sacrificial Figure the result is complex. What might be a found object, relic of an apocalyptic disaster, might equally be a totemic head, accessory to an unspecified ritual.
Modern photographs of this work, taken in profile, have encouraged its identification as an animal’s head. Butler was himself a keen photographer, adept, as Margaret Garlake notes, at ‘exploiting contrasts of tone and lighting to create a minor drama in almost every print’. ₄ From 1949 onwards Butler took considerable care to document his work, also using photography as a tool to gauge the potential scale of a sculpture. Thus it is intriguing that the catalogue for a retrospective at the J. B. Speed Art Museum at Louisville in 1963, which included small-scale images of each of Butler’s sixty-one sculptures, shows Study for Sacrificial Figure photographed from above. ₅ From this vantage the sculpture appears quite different: a tortured figure, quasi-human, with spine arched, arms thrust outwards, and a piteous head. Voids which suggested eye sockets now imply wounds to the torso, and the twisted fuselage beneath the sculpture perhaps indicates a rack, or its tethering to the ground. While the photographer is uncredited (was it Butler, or did he approve the image?), it seems clear that either interpretation is valid, and that this compelling sculpture derives its strength from such ambiguity.
Even as he struggled to articulate his thoughts on Butler’s new work, destined for the Venice Biennale in 1952, Herbert Read had noted as much. The British Pavilion included six sculptures by Butler (three iron, three bronze), identified as single female figures, a couple (girl and boy), and an insect. Tracing their origin to a ‘precise study of the morphology of nature’, Read identified Butler’s mode of transformation as the interchange of species to create ‘convincing hybrids, endowed with vitality and grace’. ₆ Study for Sacrificial Figure, contemporary with this reading, hovers uncannily between categories – between animal, human and object.
1.The Hanover Gallery exhibition catalogue lists Study for Sacrificial Figure (1952), length 11”, cat. 5, and Study for Sacrificial Figure (1952), length 22”, cat. 6. The catalogue entry (no. 110, p. 134) in Margaret Garlake, The Sculpture of Reg Butler (Lund Humphries / The Henry Moore Foundation, 2006), conflates these two sculptures.
2. Reg Butler, ‘The Venus of Lespugue and Other Naked Ladies’, The William Townsend Lecture (11 November 1980), quoted in Reg Butler (London: The Tate Gallery, 1983), p. 89.
3. Stuart Preston, ‘Recent Sculpture and Painting’, The New York Times (16 January 1955).
4. Garlake, The Sculpture of Reg Butler, p. 60.
5. Reg Butler (J. B. Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, 1963), cat. 49. The catalogue includes an essay by the curator, Addison Franklin Page (1911–1999), who visited Butler at his studio in 1960.
6. Herbert Read, ‘New Aspects of British Sculpture’, catalogue essay for the XXVI Biennale, Venice (1952).
Encounter VI, 1956
153 x 88 x 50 cm.
Inscribed Chadwick, the foundry mark Morris Singer, dated 56 and numbered 214 and from the edition
Edition of 4
Private Collection, USA
James Goodman Gallery, New York
Marion Benedek, USA (acquired from the above)
Christie’s, New York, May 16, 1980, lot 15
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection, UK
Osborne Samuel, London
Michael Middleton, ‘The British Council Collection’, The Studio (June 1959), illustration of cast in the British Council collection, p. 167.
The Connoisseur (June 1961), p. 22
J. P. Hodin, Chadwick (London: Zwemmer, 1961), illustrated, plate 10.
Alan Bowness, Lynn Chadwick (London: Methuen, 1962), illustrated (unpaginated).
A. M. Hammacher, Modern English Sculpture (London: Thames & Hudson, 1967), illustrated p. 112.
Dennis Farr and Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor, with a complete illustrated catalogue, 1947–2003 (Farnham: Lund Humphries, 2014), no. 214, illustrated p. 141.
Michael Bird, Lynn Chadwick (Farnham: Lund Humphries, 2014), illustrated p. 15 (colour).
Karen Thomson (ed.), The Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg Collection (Westmount, Quebec: Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg, 2015), illustrated p. 28 (colour).
Michael Bird (ed.), Lynn Chadwick: A Sculptor on the International Stage (Zürich: Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess, 2019), illustrated p. 26 (colour).
‘Paintings by Ben Nicholson: sculpture and drawings by Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, F. E. McWilliam, Bernard Meadows, Eduardo Paolozzi, Leslie Thornton, William Turnbull, Austin Wright’, IV São Paulo Bienal (22 September – 30 December 1957), cat. no. 60.
‘Ten Young British Sculptors: Robert Adams, Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler, Lynn Chadwick, F. E. McWilliam, Bernard Meadows, Eduardo Paolozzi, Leslie Thornton, William Turnbull, Austin Wright’, touring version of the São Paulo Bienal exhibition (1957–9), cat. no. 22.
If the leitmotif for Armitage’s work in the 1950s was the sculptural group, for Chadwick it was the paired figure. From 1953 onwards, Chadwick developed an array of typologies, whose features he inflected and interchanged. The first manifestation was Conjunction, followed by Two Dancing Figures (or simply Dance), then Encounter, Teddy Boy and Girl and Winged Figures. These were never passive meetings, or, for that matter, decorative pas-de-deux. In each instance, an electricity seems to arc between the figures. They circle, momentarily attracted, thrusting arms upwards in ritual dance or courtship. Stephen Spender potently described such pairings as ‘holding up negative and positive poles or prongs through which powerful currents interflow’. ₁
The series of ten Encounters was launched with éclat at the first ‘documenta’, in 1955, at Kassel. This was the most significant display of international contemporary art in Germany since the war, and Chadwick’s Encounter (1955) cut a lean silhouette: angular, avian, utterly distinct. From this theatrical opening, the sequence unfolded over the next half-decade, exploring a subtle range of variations.
Chadwick was already working with Stolit (a mixture of gypsum and iron filings), to in-fill the welded iron armatures of his sculptures. Nonetheless, his first Encounter presents an agile profile: two conjoined lozenge or leaf forms, on spindle legs, surmounted by beaks. Encounter II (1955), by contrast, has already evolved different attributes. Its weight is firmly at the base, with supports more like legs than spikes. Most strikingly, the figures’ pyramidal form evokes robes, falling in starched pleats, or creased from prolonged folding.
In Encounter VI, the confrontation appears demure. Two figures are enveloped within drapery of oriental symmetry, whose layering is rendered exquisitely to catch the light. Chadwick uses his materials and techniques deftly, abrading surfaces to achieve clean planes, but leaving sufficient texture to ensure liveliness. The male figure stands broadside, its torso twisted on wide-planted legs. The female’s balancing is more precarious, as if standing on tiptoe or high heels, a short cape providing a modish counterbalance. Both figures possess Chadwick’s signature ‘attitude’, while kindling fascination through their alterity.
Encounter VI was first exhibited at the São Paulo Bienal in 1957, in a display of sculpture and drawings by Adams, Armitage, Butler, McWilliam, Meadows, Paolozzi, Thornton, Turnbull and Wright, complemented by Ben Nicholson’s paintings. The selection committee included Herbert Read and Lilian Somerville (the latter the redoubtable Director of the British Council’s Fine Art Committee, affectionately celebrated in Chadwick’s Diamond Lil). It is little surprise, therefore, to detect a close intertwining between the São Paulo and Venice Biennales: the 1957 São Paulo Bienal proved to be an expanded roll-call of those sculptors exhibited, to such international acclaim, at Venice in 1952. While Chadwick garnered the International Prize for Sculpture at Venice in 1956, his success at São Paulo blossomed in 1961, when he was declared hor concours, the first British artist to be so honoured. Chadwick laughingly recalled the irony of the award. ‘And what do you get for it? Nothing’.
The economic problems of making sculpture, during this period, were significant. Chadwick’s preferred method, of using iron and Stolit, resulted in unique pieces that could be vulnerable to damage and deterioration if exposed to damp. Although bronze-casting was expensive, and dependent on the support of galleries and sales, it created multiples that were sufficiently robust to be transported safely. Bronze also, as demonstrated by Encounter VI, lent a soft, tactile sheen to sculptures’ surfaces, modifying their character and encouraging a different breed of collector.
The period at which Encounter VI was created coincides with a shift towards bronze casting in Chadwick’s practice. Chadwick initially sent works to Paris, to be cast by Susse Frères; he later worked with the Morris Singer foundry, as well as establishing casting facilities of his own at Lypiatt. The majority were small editions. Typical of this is Encounter VI, casts of which were acquired by the British Council (and thus exhibited in a succession of international tours, from 1957 until 1971), and by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in Sydney.
₁ Stephen Spender, catalogue essay for ‘Lynn Chadwick’ (New York: Knoedler Gallery, 1961).
Teddy Boy and Girl 1955 (Second Version 1974), 1974
190 x 65 x 60 cm.
Stamped with signature, numbered from the edition of 6, C170B and stamped P.E.
Edition of 6
The Artist’s Estate, from whom acquired by the previous owner, 2006
Their sale, Sotheby’s London, 9th June 2015, lot 19
Private Collection, UK
Private Collection, USA
Nico Koster & Paul Levine, Lynn Chadwick: The Sculptor and His World, SMD Informatief, Spruyt, Van Mantgem & De Does BV, Leiden, 1988, p.63 and 73 (another cast);
Dennis Farr and Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor, With A Complete Illustrated Catalogue, Lund Humphries, London, 2014, cat. no.170B, illustrated p.122 (another cast)
Among the series of dancing couples Chadwick created, from 1954 onwards, Teddy Boy and Girl proved the most provocative. The very act of plucking a title from popular culture seemed calculated to raise critics’ hackles – a ‘catchpenny’ trick as guileful as a song’s refrain. For Chadwick it reflected both the playfulness often evident in his sculpture and a narrowing of the distance between art and reality: a confrontation that proved increasingly fertile. Such clashes could be merely allusive – in titles such as Later Alligator or Moon of Alabama – or, as in the case of Teddy Boy and Girl, point to imagery derived fundamentally from contemporary visual culture.
Chadwick exhibited a contemporary version to this cast at the Venice Biennale in 1956, the year he won the coveted Sculpture Prize and was catapulted onto an international
Cathy II, 1997
Oil on board
38.71 x 61.49 cm.
Annely Juda, London
Annandale Galleries, Sydney
Private Collection, Sydney
Kendall R., Kossoff, Poussin and drawing: The anarchic and the
purposeful, British Art Journal, vol. 1, no. 1, 1999, pp. 70,
Heathcote C., Bliss in the here and now, Art & Australia, vol. 38, no. 4, 2001 pp. 534,
This painting will be included in the forthcoming publication Leon Kossoff: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings edited by Andrea Rose, with research by Andrew Dempsey and Stephanie Farmer, to be published by Modern Art Press. © Leon Kossoff
Leon Kossoff, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York;
travelled to Annely Juda Fine Art, London, Cat No 74, Illustrated.
Leon Kossoff, Annandale Galleries, Sydney
Kossoff’s studio at Willesden Green was described, in 1999, as a place where his ‘belief in the fundamental but elusive nature of drawing and in the primal chaos of creativity’ took palpable form.1 Kossoff was born in London, to Russian-Jewish parents, and this was the studio where he had painted most of his work since 1966. Paint encrusted the floor and work surfaces. Light came from a single bulb, since a screen of curtains and garden overgrowth largely excluded daylight, and in one corner, slightly cleaner than the rest, was a radiator and old bench, where models would pose. It is this radiator and bench that can be seen in Cathy II. Kossoff would typically make series of charcoal drawings, then work in oils, revising and beginning again numerous times, perhaps over months, until a final state of coalescence was reached. In Cathy II, Richard Kendall described this moment as possessing ‘a raw feeling for structure, the studio tones fusing with a subject that is both old-masterly and poignantly real’.2 Taking Kendall’s description as a cue, Cathy II may be approached through light, subject, and a connection to the past.
Light in the studio was apparently not an overriding concern for Kossoff. His studio faced south, and if the light proved awkward, he would simply turn a painting around or start anew. Yet its effect within a painting is a different matter. Describing Kossoff’s handling of paint as evocative of mud and clay, and his palette as frequently subdued or monochrome, David Sylvester continued,
But the most wonderful of the resolved contradictions in Kossoff’s paintings is that between the sense of heaviness in the paint itself and the sense of light in the image, whether the palette is pale or quite dark. … Mud and clay are opaque; Kossoff’s paintings are luminous.3
Light defines contours in Cathy II, bringing nearer to us the nude’s angled leg and shoulder, highlighting her elbow and breastbone. It also clarifies structure, so that we appreciate the body’s folded form by virtue of the crumpled cloth and pillow and the ridged radiator behind. The limited palette focuses attention on the movement of the paint, its tone and texture both embodying and catching the light. This gestural quality reinforces a sense of Cathy II as a physical object, setting up rhythms and counter-rhythms within the composition. In places – such as in the downward pull of the paint in the lower left corner – this reinforces reality. In others, such as the delicate trails of white near the sitter’s head, it seems to have no connection with it, although absence would be felt as loss.
Kossoff had painted his subject in 1994 as Cathy No. 1, Summer and Cathy No. 3, Summer. Both are larger paintings on board, showing Cathy, nude, slumped in a chair. In the former, her arms hug her chest and her body is tipped forward on the picture plane, emphasising her pelvis and the fullness of her thighs. In the latter, the pose is quieter and more oblique: she closes her eyes and appears comfortably at rest. Cathy II is yet more intimate, suggesting the sitter curled asleep, her back to the radiator for warmth. Kossoff established close relationships with his models, who were often family or friends.
In 1996, John Berger wrote to Kossoff, in what became an essay in the form of a written correspondence. Again Kossoff’s studio provided the starting point for discussion. From student days Kossoff had kept on his wall an image of Rembrandt’s Bathsheba at her Bath, in which she holds a letter: as she sits, naked, the upper part of her body is bathed in light, her legs in shadow. The recollection of the painting evoked for Berger a chain of thought about Kossoff’s portraits, whether of Cathy or Pilar. An artist friend, Miquel Barceló, had made a book of reliefs with a text in Braille, to be felt by the blind:
And this made me see that if a blind person felt Bathsheba’s body and then felt Pilar’s or Cathy’s, they would have the sensation of touching similar flesh. And this similarity is not to do with a similar way of painting but with a similar respect for flesh, paint and their vicissitudes 4
Berger’s response struck a chord with Kossoff, prompting a meditation on light and what he described as the ‘thereness’ of the sitter in the painting. Ending the correspondence, Kossoff alluded to the impossibility of painting light, yet its miraculous existence within a painting at its moment of resolution: ‘In a sense, before the work is resolved, the painter is, in a certain way, blind’.5 Cathy II, with remarkable assuredness, evinces this moment of clarity.
1. Richard Kendall, ‘Kossoff, Poussin and drawing: the anarchic and the purposeful’, British Art Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Autumn 1999), p. 70.
2. Kendall, ibid.
3. David Sylvester, ‘Kossoff’, in About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948–96 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1996), p. 294.
4. John Berger, ‘Kossoff’, in The Shape of a Pocket (London: Bloomsbury, 2002), p. 81
5. Leon Kossoff, in Berger, p. 84.
Family Group, 1944
14.7 x 9.8 x 6.7 cm.
Edition of 9 + 1
Edgar B. Young & Jane White Young, New York (acquired from the artist on November 26, 1965)
Private Collection, USA (acquired from the above in 2002)
Osborne Samuel, London
David Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, vol. 1 , London, no. 231, illustration of the terracotta version p. 146
David Mitchinson et al., Celebrating Moore, Works from the Collection of The Henry Moore Foundation , London, 1998, no.143, illustration of another cast p.209
John Hedgecoe, Monumental Vision: The Sculpture of Henry Moore , London, 1998, no.234, illustration of the terracotta version, p.211
Dorothy Kosinski, Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century (New Haven & London: Dallas Museum of Art/Yale University Press, 2001), cat. 50, illustrated in terracotta, p. 174.
Casts held at the San Diego Museum of Art & the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, USAThe terracotta original is held by the Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham, UK
A group of a dozen or more maquettes owes its origin to an unrealised commission for Impington Village College, in Cambridgeshire. When the educationalist Henry Morris approached Moore, in the 1930s, it was with an inspirational vision to create a centre for the surrounding villages, designed by the architect Walter Gropius, to integrate art, music, lectures, plays and films into everyday life. Moore instantly lighted upon the subject of the family, as most appropriate. Although funds proved insufficient to fulfil the project at the time, the idea took root.
In 1944, Morris again contacted Moore, who began to make sketches, then maquettes of family groups. Some were intended to be enlarged as bronze sculptures, but most were envisaged as stone carvings, Moore’s preferred medium for Impington. After nine months’ work, however, the project foundered, partly through lack of money, and partly due to the Education Authority’s lack of enthusiasm for Moore’s maquettes. Some years later, the ideas were developed as two significant commissions: Family Group (1948-9), in bronze for Barclay School in Stevenage, and Family Group (1954-5), in stone for Harlow New Town. ₁
Contemplating the Impington commission, Moore filled two sketchbooks with family groups. The compositions varied between one- and two-children families, with the children (of different ages) seated or standing. Some are more abstract than others, some figures contain holes, others have vestigial or split heads. The female figure is often swathed in a shawl or dress, and sometimes a blanket is draped, tenderly, over both figures’ knees. Moore regarded these sketches not only as generating ideas for sculpture but as a means of clarifying the subject in his mind: with a battery of possibilities before him, he could choose which to refine and take forward. In conversation with David Sylvester, Moore later identified the family group as his last significant subject to be developed through this process of drawing. ₂
The maquette for Family Group (1944) shows three seated figures. To the left, a woman holds a child, to the right, a man places one hand protectively on the woman’s shoulder, while his other hand holds a book. The message is clear: that a close family unit is inseparable from the values of education. Significantly, Morris had intended to bring all aspects of learning together at Impington, with parents and children using the same building, and ‘village’ and ‘college’ functioning, effectively, as families.₃ Morris’s thinking can be set against the backdrop of the Welfare State, with its focus on upholding and supporting the family as a vital anchor for society.
Having made a similar group of maquettes for the Northampton Madonna and Child, in 1943, Moore realised their potential, once editioned in bronze, for use as promotion or a source of income.₄ Family Group was editioned in 1956, from the original terracotta maquette, by Charles Gaskin of the Art Bronze Foundry in Chelsea. Bernard Meadows, who was Moore’s assistant at the time, recalled that some casts were roughly finished, and required considerable refinement before returning to the foundry for patination. The flipside to this, paradoxically, is that their final state can be considered to have been closely supervised and worked on by the artist.
Kenneth Clark remained critical of Moore’s family groups, considering them to lack the force, or menace, of other subjects. The phrase Clark used was ‘dutiful deadness’, which he diagnosed as stemming from Moore’s own personal happiness, as represented by the family – a wife and child.₅ Notwithstanding, Family Group (1944) is a beautifully conceived and realised maquette, possessing the quiet strength of its monumental counterparts. Moore’s commissions for Stevenage and Harlow, meanwhile, would become well-loved examples of public art.
₁ See Moore, in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 89, 273-5.
₂ Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’ (7 June 1963), BBC Third Programme. See also Alice Correia, ‘Maquette for Family Group 1945 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, Tate Research Publications (2014).
₃ Andrew Causey, The Drawings of Henry Moore (Lund Humphries, 2010), p. 133.
₄ David Sylvester, ‘The Evolution of Henry Moore’s Sculpture: II’, The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 90, No. 544 (July 1948), p. 190.
₅ Kenneth Clark, Henry Moore Drawings (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974), p. 155.