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Standing Figure, 1954
80.5 x 19 x 12 cm.
Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York
Artcurial, Paris, 1996
Connaught Brown, London (purchased at the above)
Private Collection, UK (acquired from the above 30 October 1997)
Osborne Samuel, London
Tamsyn Woollcombe (ed.), Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work (Much Hadham/London: The Henry Moore Foundation, in association with Lund Humphries, 1997), KA 50.
James Scott and Claudia Milburn, The Sculpture of Kenneth Armitage (London: Lund Humphries, 2016), ill. p. 103, no. 50.
New York, Bertha Schaefer Gallery, catalogue not traced, another cast exhibited, March / April 1956
‘Kenneth Armitage: sculpture & drawings; S W Hayter: paintings & engravings; William Scott: paintings’, the British Pavilion at the XXIX Venice Biennale 1958, organised by the British Council (14 June – 19 October 1958), essay by Herbert Read, cat. no. 8.
‘Kenneth Armitage, S W Hayter, William Scott’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (22 November – 21 December 1958), essay by Herbert Read (text in French), cat. no. 8.
‘Kenneth Armitage, S W Hayter, William Scott’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (7-29 March 1959), essay by Herbert Read (text in French), cat. no. 8.
‘Sculptuur en tekeningen van Kenneth Armitage en schilderijien van William Scott’, exhibition organised by the British Council, based on the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam (3-30 June 1959), essay by Herbert Read (text in Dutch), cat. no. 8.
‘Stanley W. Hayter: Gemälde und Graphiken; William Scott: Gemälde; Kenneth Armitage: Skulpturen und Zeichnungen’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (10 January – 8 February 1959), essay by Herbert Read (text in German), cat. no. 8.
‘Stanley W. Hayter: Gemälde und Graphiken; William Scott: Gemälde; Kenneth Armitage: Skulpturen und Zeichnungen’, exhibition organised by the British Council, tour of the Venice Biennale Exhibition, Kunsthaus, Zürich (April-May 1959), cat. no. 8.
‘Kenneth Armitage: a retrospective exhibition of sculpture and drawing, based on the XXIX Venice Biennale of 1958’, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (July-August 1959), essay by Alan Bowness, cat. no. 17.
Estate records an edition of 6
‘Sculpture should express a liking for ordinary unheroic people who are not idealised in any way. People are funny; their bodies and actions having teasing and tantalising forms … obstinate lovable lumps of flesh continually falling short of their aspirations. In this attitude of life I express something beyond my own nature, something more general about the human predicament. I don’ t seek an idealised form of perfection or what is sometimes called grace. Grace makes an object remote and unattainable.’ – Kenneth Armitage
By 1954, Armitage was poised to move into the next stage of his career. He had exhibited with success at the Venice Biennale in 1952, alongside Adams, Butler, Chadwick, Clarke, Meadows, Paolozzi and Turnbull. The following year, he built a foundry at Corsham Court, with Meadows, enabling him to experiment with casting his own work. Armitage’s sculpture was being sold internationally, and in March 1954 the Bertha Schaefer Gallery opened a solo exhibition in New York, where his bronzes were described as ‘impressive’, ‘natural and convincing’.₁
Amid this, and within the increasingly confident evolution of Armitage’s group sculptures, Standing Figure (1954) appears strikingly anomalous. Unlike the composite figures, it has a lightness stemming from the voids created by its arms hanging perpendicular to its shoulders. The figure’s singularity, in fact, endows it with a quiet magnetism. Far larger than the hand-sized Cycladic figurines that may have inspired it, it stands gaunt, head angled quizzically.
Armitage had studied the British Museum’s Egyptian and Cycladic collections as a student, and would retain an interest in the frontality of Egyptian sculpture throughout his life. There is cross-currency, too, with the sculpture of William Turnbull, who was likewise, albeit briefly, a teacher at Corsham. Armitage’s Standing Figure echoes Turnbull’s heads, from the 1950s and later, whose impassive flatness – in common with Cycladic sculpture, as well as Picasso – is relieved only by dots, dashes or wedges. And while the gently incised surfaces of Standing Figure imply antiquity, they also parallel those of ceramic vessels made by James Tower, an artist friend at Corsham, with whom Armitage shared his first exhibition at Gimpel Fils. These are concerns common to sculpture of the decade. What is remarkable, however, is Armitage’s skilful orchestration of their effect, subordinating their impact to his own creative voice.
₁. New York Times review (1954), quoted in James Scott and Claudia Milburn, The Sculpture of Kenneth Armitage (London: Lund Humphries, 2016), p. 40.
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.
Homemade paint on canvas
95.3 x 158 x 5 cm.
Signed and dated verso
Arthur Tooth Gallery, UK (March 1959).
Martin Summers Art Ltd, London – J P Cochrane Collection (2005).
Fine Art Society, London (2006).
Rosenfeld Porcini, London (2017).
Vigo Gallery, London (2022).
1960, Matter Painting, ICA, London (Bram Bogart, Lucio Fontana, Nicolas De Stael, Antonio Tapies, Jean Dubuffet, Jean Fautrier) (21 Sep – 22 Oct, 1960).
2013, The Continuation of Romance painting an Interrupted discourse, Rosenfeld Porcini, London.
2017, Bram Bogart. Zonzucht, Vigo Gallery, London.
Teddy Boy and Girl, 1955
190 x 65 x 60 cm.
Signed, inscribed '170,' and stamped with the foundry mark
Edition of 6
Estate of the Artist
Private collection, USA
Robert Melville, ‘Lynn Chadwick’, Quadrum, Issue 2, Brussels, November 1956, pp. 98-108
G. S. Whittet, ‘London Commentary’, The Studio, Issue 154, October 1957, p. 125
Herbert Read, Lynn Chadwick, Artists of Our Time/Künstler Unserer Zeit, Switzerland, 2nd Edition, 1960,
English and German text, no. 22
Josef Paul Hodin, Chadwick, Modern Sculptors, London, 1961, no. 24
W. S. Lieberman & A. H. Barr, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection: Masterpieces of Modern Art, 1981,
Dennis Farr & Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor, Aldershot, 2006, no. 170, p. 110, illustrated p. 111
Venice, XXVIII Biennale, June – October 1956 and tour
Kendal, Abbott Hall Art Gallery and Bowness-on-Windermere, Blackwell The Arts and Crafts House, Lynn Chadwick: Evolution in Sculpture, March – June 2013
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.
Twister II, 1962
109 x 34 x 23 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 4 on the edge of the base
Edition of 4
Private Collection, USA
A.M. Hammacher, Modern English Sculpture, London, 1967, p. 113, another cast illustrated.
D. Farr and E. Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor, Aldershot, 2006, p. 186, no. 367, another cast illustrated
Brussels, Galerie Withofs, Lynn Chadwick, October – November 1969, not numbered, another cast exhibited
Twister I held in the The Tate Gallery Collection, London
The two sculptures that constitute the Twister Series were both conceived in 1962. According to Tony Reichardt, working at the Marlborough Gallery at this time, Twister I, which is a unique piece made from welded steel, was a response to the expiry of his contract with the gallery. In 1960 Chadwick had signed a two year deal with Marlborough and although very lucrative he found it demanding. He celebrated this freedom by creating a series of unique pieces, rather than editioned bronzes, to fulfil an exhibition schedule.
The Twister Series are clearly related to the Watchers that Chadwick had been producing from 1959 and ‘stand observant but undemonstrative, sinister, armless beings … the Watchers seem to be tensed; waiting, aware that something is going to happen.’ (A. Bowness, Lynn Chadwick, London, 1962)
Twister II appears to have the same physical attributes as the Watchers, however, Chadwick has marginally offset the three blocks that make up the abstracted figure. Rather than ‘tensed and waiting’ these subtle changes give the piece a sense of movement, even dance; a restrained joviality. The surface maintains the impression of welded unrefinement, so important in his earlier work, despite being cast in bronze.
Is this work Chadwick celebrating the cutting of gallery ties or maybe a response to an experience he had as Artist in Residence at Ontario College of Art during 1962? He himself maintained that he gave his works the titles after he had created them and he famously did not interpret his own sculptures, stating that ‘Art must be the manifestation of some vital force coming from the dark, caught by the imagination and translated by the artist’s ability and skill … Whatever the final shape, the force behind … indivisible. When we philosophize upon this force we lose sight of it. The intellect alone is too clumsy to grasp it’ (A. Bowness, ibid.)
The estate of the artist has confirmed that this example was cast prior to 1974.
Cloaked Couple V, 1977
51 x 35 x 45 cm.
Signed and numbered 'CHADWICK 763S, stamped with the foundry mark (on the cloak of the female figure) and numbered
Edition of 9
The Artist, thence by family descent
Osborne Samuel Gallery, London
Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick, Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-1996, Lypiatt Studio, Stroud, 1997,p.314, cat.no.763S
Edinburgh, Mercury Gallery, Lynn Chadwick, 25 February-31March 1983, cat.no.9 (another cast)
Cloaked Couple V conceived in 1977 demonstrates how by joining together the male and female figures Chadwick was able to explore the ideas of tenderness and intimacy in his paired sculptures. With the separated couples the owners’determine their positioning and relationship to one another; they can be controlled and expressed in a myriad of ways. But with the fusing of the bronze cloaks , at a position where the lower arms and hands meet underneath, an unbreakable bond is created between the sexes which is first established in Chadwick’s mature phase in his life-size Two Reclining Figures (1972). The emphasis shifts, as the 1970s progress and the technique developed, to an emotional level, where the figures’ humanity is realised in new terms. With Cloaked Couple V the subtleties of the woman’s stretched neck and positioning of face leaning into her companion imply a moment of privacy and dialogue is occurring which, as viewers, we are privileged to share.
Michael Bird comments on this time:
‘His increasing tendency to interpret his work in terms of human relationship, rather than formal balance, begins to be audible. “Presences” was how he referred to his new figure sculptures; they were about being, not doing:
“I used to call them Watchers, but no longer. Sometimes they are not watching anything. What they are doing is illustrating a relationship – a physical relationship – between people”. It was through this relationship, not through purely formal or allusive qualities, that he wanted his sculptures to speak: “If you can get their physical attitudes right you can spell out a message”‘ (Michael Bird, Lynn Chadwick, Lund Humphries, Farnham, Surrey, 2014, p.147).
Lying Beast, 1960
19 x 30 x 110 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 4 casts
Edition of 4
Marlborough Gallery, New York, 1960
Osborne Samuel Ltd (purchased from the above)
Dennis Farr and Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor: with a Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 1947-2005, number 323, another cast reproduced page 167
Caracas, Venezuela, Museo de Contemporaneo de Caracas, Lynn Chadwick, November 1990, catalogue number 19
Toyama, Japan, The Museum of Modern Art, Lynn Chadwick, April 20 – May 19, 1991, catalogue number 19, reproduced. This exhibition travelled to: The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, June 15- July 28, 1991; The Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone, August 3 – September 4, 1991; The Museum of Kyoto, Kyoto, September 13 – October 2, 1991.
Maquette V Two Winged Figures, 1973
48.2 x 44 x 23 cm.
Stamped with the artist's monogram, also 'CHADWICK', the reference number 672, dated and numbered from the edition of 6
Edition of 6
Thony Reichardt, 1979
Marlborough Fine Art
Private Collection, Belgium (purchased from the above c.1980)
Osborne Samuel, London
Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick, Sculptor, Lund Humphries, Farnham, 2014, p.297, cat.no.672
The winged figure, often presented as a pair, threads through Chadwick’s sculpture from the mid-1950s onwards. Early examples often danced in duet, their wings splayed in courtship ritual. In 1962, Chadwick transformed the idea completely, starkly abstracting its form to resemble aeroplane wings: Two Winged Figures, constructed from plate steel at an industrial works in Italy, and painted bright yellow and black, towered above the viewer.
If there was always a dialogue between the human and the machine, by the early 1970s Chadwick’s imagery had settled in favour of the former. Maquette V Two Winged Figures (1973) is, on balance, more human than otherwise. The wings, folded downwards, resemble robes. The female figure is clearly identifiable as such, broad-hipped and round-breasted, while the square shoulders of the male figure determine the geometric fall of his tunic and wings. But the head? So often in Chadwick’s sculpture this is where ambiguity concentrates. Heads resemble beaks, science-fiction jaws, insectoid mandibles, square television monitors. Sometimes they are reduced almost to invisibility, seeding doubt as to their sentience. In Maquette V Two Winged Figures, Chadwick characteristically uses a cube and pyramid to denote difference. Borne erect, and rendered proportionally in relation to each figure’s torso, these heads give cause for reassurance – yet the frisson of alterity persists.
Sitting Figures in Robes I, 1980
28 x 50 x 30.5 cm.
Stamped with the artist's monogram, the reference number `787s' and numbered from the edition
Edition of 9
Galeria Freites, Caracas
Private Collection, (purchased from the above 1988)
Osborne Samuel, London
D. Farr and E. Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor, with a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2003, Farnham, 2014, p.341, no. 787S
Chadwick first explored the subject of the seated figure in the early 1970s. Sculptural mass was paramount in these expositions, with paired figures almost conjoined, legs suggested minimally, and heads oblong or triangular. While Chadwick’s convention for the head – oblong for male, triangular for female – persisted, other aspects would be rebalanced. Firstly, the squatness of the figures diminished. As they became more erect, elegantly poised in relation to one another, the treatment of drapery altered. Some sculptures were also editioned with brightly polished heads, lending a different quality altogether.
Chadwick was a keen observer of human form, noticing instantly its particular bearing or attitude. In Sitting Figures in Robes I (1980) the couple appears slightly distanced, the female perhaps tense, shifting weight from one leg to the other, the male more stolidly at ease. It is a scenario that may be unpicked at leisure, as light emphasises and diminishes different aspects of the composition. Chadwick’s treatment of the couple’s robes modulates our perception of their relative forms. Where the female’s robes flatter, by clinging to narrow shoulders and spreading, fish-tailed, to one side, the male’s drop squarely, with minimal fuss. Chadwick models with consummate skill, such that bronze appears to curve and drape with the fluidity of lead.
Portrait Head, 2001
Etching on Somerset Textured paper
59.7 x 47.3 cm.
Signed with initials and numbered from the edition of 46 plus 12 artist's proofs
Edition of 46
Matthew Marks Gallery, New York
Starr Figura 61; Sebastian Smee 44;
Toby Treves, Lucian Freud: Catalogue Raisonné of the Prints, published by Modern Art Press, 2022, no. 96, illustrated p.239
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings , 16 Dec 2007 – 10 Mar 2008 (another impression exhibited and illustrated p.92)
The journalist Emily Bearn was the subject of this etching, she was also the sitter to several paintings in 2001-2002.
Self-Portrait: Reflection, 1996
Etching on Somerset Textured paper
59.5 x 43 cm.
Initialled and numbered from the edition of 46 plus 12 artist's proofs
Edition of 46 plus 12 artist's proofs
Private Collection, USA
Craig Hartley 55; Starr Figura 76
Sarah Howgate 123; Sebastian Smee 1
William Feaver 66; Yale 41
Toby Treves, Lucian Freud: Catalogue Raisonné of the Prints, published by Modern Art Press, 2022, No. 80, illustrated p.207
London, National Portrait Gallery, Lucian Freud: Portraits, 9 Feb – 27 May 2012, illustrated p.197, another impression
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Lucian Freud: The Painter’s Etchings, 16 Dec 2007 – 10 Mar 2008, illustrated p. 76, another impression
Lucian Freud was one of the most significant portraitists of the last century, acclaimed Internationally. His portraits are both ruthless, coldblooded examinations and yet also intimate and impartial. This seemingly contradictory approach stemmed from seeing himself as “a sort of biologist”, interested in “the insides and undersides of things.” ₁
He refused to work from photographs as he stated, “the aura given out by a person or object is as much a part of them as their flesh. The effect that they make in space is as bound up with them as might be their colour or smell.”₂ Sitters had to be patient and prepared to be nocturnal, so inevitably this led to self-portraits. Freud depicted mirror images of himself throughout the breadth of his career and often referred to this process in titles, such as in the etching, Self-Portrait: Reflection.
This etching is an extraordinary portrait and display of technical command, the artist as in so many portraits, naked, filling the large plate from the chest upwards. Freud stood his copper plates upright on an easel from the mid 1980’s onwards and found he was able to work with greater force and fluidity. He claimed to find etching easier than drawing.
Self-Portrait: Reflection is uncompromising, the irregularities of the surface and lack of balance to his features are laid bare. The artist’s eyes scarcely visible but piercing, self-examining and yet also boring into the viewer.
Freud stated, “Many people are inclined to look at portraits not for the art in them but to see how they resemble people. This seems to me a profound misunderstanding.” ₃
Frank Auerbach began to unravel this ‘misunderstanding’ in the Tate catalogue that accompanied Freud’s retrospective of 2002:
‘When I think of the work of Lucian Freud, I think of Lucian’s attention to his subject. If his concentrated interest were to falter he would come off his tightrope; he has no safety net of manner. Whenever his way of working threatens to become a style, he puts it aside like a blunted pencil and finds a procedure more suited to his needs.I am never aware of the aesthetic paraphernalia. The subject is raw, not cooked to be more digestible as art, not covered in a gravy of ostentatious tone or colour, nor arranged on the plate as a ‘composition.’ The paintings live because their creator has been passionately attentive to their theme, and his attention has left something for us to look at. It seems a sort of miracle.’₄
₁ Royal Academy Blog, 22nd October 2019
₂ Lucian Freud: A Life, David Dawson and Mark Holborn, published by Phaidon, 2019
₃ Freud cited in Cape, J., Freud at Work, Alfred Knopf, New York, 2006, p. 32
₄ William Feaver, Lucian Freud, Tate Publishing, 2002, p.51
Family Group, 1945
18 x 10 x 6 cm.
Edition of 7
Sir Kenneth Clark, Saltwood (acquired from the artist)
The Honourable Colette Clark, Oxford (gift from the above)
Fischer Fine Art, Ltd., London
Ryde & Robert H Levi, Private Collection (acquired from the above, 1977)
Christie’s, New York, 2016
Private Collection, USA, 2016 (acquired from the above)
Osborne Samuel, London
David Sylvester (ed.) and Herbert Read, Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1921-48, vol. I, London, 1990, no.238. (not illustrated)
J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 176, no. 4 (another cast illustrated; plaster version illustrated, pp. 163 and 269; dated 1944).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Sculptures and Drawings 1964-73, London, 1977, vol. 4 (terracotta version illustrated, p. 10, pl. A).
B. von Erich Steingrber, Henry Moore Maquetten, Pantheon, 1978 (terracotta version illustrated, p. 24, fig. 23).
R. Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, London, 1987, fig. 88 (terracotta version illustrated).
J. Hedgecoe, A Monumental Vision, The Sculpture of Henry Moore, London, 1998, p. 210, no. 239 (another cast)
The Family Groups are Moore’s most socially-minded sculptures, and considered perhaps the most admired subject in his oeuvre. He conceived this idea for a public commission related to the building of new towns and schools in Britain before the Second World War. It was not until 1944, however, during the height of the war, that it appeared funding for the commission might finally become available. Moore sculpted models of triadic as well as four-figure family groups. The combination of both parents plus two children was capable of generating more varied arrangements and a wider range of emotional expression.
These sculptures celebrated the nation’s anticipated return to peacetime well-being and the pleasures of family life. Moore intended that they should inspire a renewed emphasis on fundamental humanist values, while providing an aesthetic model for community spirit and co-operation, with the promise of progressive social services for all. These sculptures rejoice in the start of new young families. After a half-decade of wartime casualties and a low birth rate, to once again become fruitful and multiply was a crucial requirement for the economic and social revival of Britain during the post-war era.
Moore carried a lifelong dedication to the theme and depiction of family. His very first surviving stone carving, executed in 1922, was entitled Mother and Child (Lund Humphries, no. 3). By 1940, of the more than 150 sculptures he had produced to that date, 22 were versions of the Mother and Child theme. This subject had become something of an obsession for the sculptor; it allowed him to create a formal interaction between two figures—one small, the other much larger—based on their powerful and affecting emotional connection. At the same time, each of the figures contributed their particular weight and volume to form a single, unified, plastic entity.
In 1943, during the early years of the Second World War, Moore was commissioned to carve a Madonna and Child for St. Matthew’s Church in Northampton, England. This project provided the sculptor an opportunity to cast the mother and child theme in a traditional sacred context, in which the figures took on qualities, as Moore described them, “of austerity, and a nobility, and some touch of grandeur (even hieratic aloofness) which is missing in the everyday ‘Mother and Child’ idea” (quoted in A. Wilkinson, Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 267).
The Family Group theme materialized when Moore was asked by Henry Morris and Walter Gropius to create a sculpture for a village college at Impington near Cambridge. The college’s ideal of both child and adult education in a single institution appealed to Moore, who was clearly preoccupied with the link between parent and child. The occasion of a commission for a public sculpture, this time on behalf of an educational institution, encouraged the sculptor to consider the importance of the family as the primary human social unit whose close interpersonal relationships provided an exemplary guide for wider communal values.
Will Grohmann discusses the subject of the family group, “In the years between 1944 and 1947 he [Moore] produced a number of larger and smaller variations in stone, bronze and terracotta, differing considerably from one another, being both naturalistic and non-naturalistic, though never as abstract as the ‘reclining figures’. The theme does not hem him in, but it demands a certain readiness to enter into the meaning of a community such as the family” (W. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, p. 141).
Figures in Settings, 1949
pencil, wax crayon, watercolour, conté pencil, gouache and ink on paper
29.2 x 23.5 cm.
Signed and dated lower right in pen and ink. Also inscribed in the centre right of the image in pencil: ‘rich golden brown/Background/ Giotto; Blank spaces – II’
Gimpel Fils, London, 1955
Private collection since the 1970’s
Osborne Samuel, London
The drawing is catalogued in the Henry Moore Foundation as HMF 2448a
Kenneth Clark wrote about Moore’s dramatic staged group drawings in 1978:
In his drawings Moore makes the dramatic quality of his forms explicit by relating them to each other in a unified space….In many of his early drawings dramatic groups, the protagonists are familiar figures from his notebooks, but they are arranged dramatically near the front of a sort of stage. Occassionally shadowy projections of themselves hang in the space behind or they are echoed in a kind of backcloth … (or) put into a bare cell, with several rectangular windows … What led Moore to imprison his creations in this way it is difficult to determine. Perhaps he felt that it allowed an unrestricted concentration on their plastic qualities.
Kenneth Clarke, Henry Moore Drawings, Thames and Hudson, 1978, p.113 – 114
Fourteen Ideas for Sculpture, 1939
Pencil, wax crayon, watercolour wash, pen and ink, crayon on cream medium weight wove
27.5 x 19 cm.
Signed with pen and ink lower left 'Moore/39'
Curt Valentin, New York
George Gallowhur, USA
Brigitta Bertoia, USA
Private collection, Los Angeles
William Beadleston Gallery, New York
James Kirkman, London
New Art Centre, London
Lillian Heidenberg Gallery, New York
Osborne Samuel, London
Herbert Read, Moore (Vol.1), 1944, pl152a; 1949, pl.152a
Henry Moore Complete Drawings; Volume 2 (1930-39) , edited by Ann Garrould, published by Lund Humphries, no. AG39.19; HMF 1460
Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), illustrated p. 237.
This drawing and Eighteen Ideas for Sculpture AG39.20 originally formed part of a large sheet. Moore gave permission for the two sections to be separated in December 1983.
Around 1937, Moore became fascinated by Fabre de Lagrange’s mathematical models in the Science Museum: beautiful objects, made in 1872 from polished brass, wood and coloured filaments. Their aim was to demonstrate the new discipline of Descriptive Geometry, but for Moore it was the models’ structure and changing viewpoints that proved compelling – ‘the ability to look through the strings as with a bird cage and see one form within the other’. ₁
The precursors to these models, containing fixed elements, were devised by Gaspard Monge (1746–1818), whose pupil, Théodore Olivier (1793–1853), refined the concept by designing versions able to be distorted and rotated into a variety of configurations. It was these models, made by Lagrange, that changed the course of mathematical teaching. Forming the basis of teaching collections, they dictated the tenor of lectures, their delicate construction even requiring technicians to care for them.₂ Moore evidently studied Lagrange’s models carefully, commenting,
I was fascinated by the mathematical models … made to illustrate the difference of the form that is halfway between a square and a circle. One model had a square at one end with 20 holes along each side … Through these holes rings were threaded and lead [sic] to a circle with the same number of holes at the other end. A plane interposed through the middle shows the form that is halfway between a square and a circle ₃
Over a three-year period, between 1937 and 1939, Moore created around fifty sculptures in which space is modified by taut threads. There is a complex relationship between such works, Moore’s drawings and photography, as Andrew Causey has noted. A photograph, showing a cluster of stringed maquettes arranged on a plinth in Moore’s studio, corresponds exactly with the composition of Landscape with Figures (1938), in which Moore has supplied an imagined background. ₄ The implication is that Moore was exploring ideas beyond sculpture, and it is pertinent, as Causey also observes, that Moore’s drawings were included in the series of Penguin Modern Painters. ₅
In the two sets of drawings presented here, originally part of a single sheet, stringed figures predominate: proliferating and mutating serially across the paper, to suggest bones or stones, worn into strange cavities and curvatures. Fourteen Ideas for Sculpture relates most closely to the complexity of Lagrange’s conoid models, albeit exchanging their angularity for organic, rounded forms. In Eighteen Ideas for Sculpture the focus alters, to address – as Moore’s annotation makes clear – the ‘mother & child’. Moore made biomorphic stringed sculptures with this title, predominantly small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, in 1938–9. Also on this page are more familiar depictions of the subject, a mother standing, child in arms, as well as an abstract enclosing figure, similar to Moore’s internal/external forms. Most intriguing, and fitting into Causey’s category of the uncanny, are the two drawings to the lower left of the sheet, in which a bone-white structure is set closely against a quasi-human form. If the yellow of these figures isolates them, their darkly shaded background contributes to a sense of menace. Such ambiguity was captured by Robert Melville’s term ‘object-presences’: figures ready at any moment to ‘break into overt and destructive action’. ₆
₁ Moore, in Henry Moore and John Hedgecoe, Henry Spencer Moore (Thomas Nelson, 1968), p. 105.
₂ Jane Wess, ‘The history of surface mathematical models’, in Intersections: Henry Moore and Stringed Surfaces (London: The Royal Society, 2012), p. 7–8.
₃ Moore, in Moore and Hedgecoe, Henry Spencer Moore, p. 105.
₄ Andrew Causey, ‘Henry Moore and the Uncanny’, in Henry Moore: Critical Essays (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2003), p. 82–90.
₅ Geoffrey Grigson, Henry Moore, The Penguin Modern Painters (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Limited, 1943). Plate 20 shows a drawing, Objects – string and wood (1938), illustrating stringed figures in a prison-like setting.
₆ Robert Melville, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, 1921–1969 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1970), p. 17.
16 x 14 x 11 cm.
Signed on the base "To Ann Zwinger from Henry Moore"
Collection of the artist. Collection of Ann H. Zwinger.
By descent, Ann H. Zwinger Trust.
Orebro, Sweden, 1952
Dimensions include the artist’s base Height 2cm; 3/4 in
The recent, spectacular exhibition of Moore’s Helmet Heads at the Wallace Collection in 2019 demonstrates their enduring fascination. Moore had visited the Wallace Collection in the 1920s and made drawings of armour, recording details that found their way into his sculptures – most intensely during the 1930s to 1950s, but sporadically throughout the course of his life.
Early intimations of Moore’s Helmet series appear in his drawings in the mid-1930s. Helmets morph into heads, skulls contain blanched structures, branching within them. From these seedling ideas developed Moore’s first metal sculpture. The Helmet (1939–40), originally in lead, is a slender vertical structure. Two holes, piercing its top, appear as eyes. Most importantly, however, it encloses a separately cast inner form suggesting a figure, planted on two stubby legs. The upright form of this figure, in combination with the womb-like enclosure of the outer shell, suggests a mother and child.
Moore, in fact, cited multiple sources for the series that unfolded from this startling composition. In addition to the Wallace Collection, he recalled that his early interest in armour had been informed by the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he wandered at lunchtimes as a student. ₁ He also linked The Helmet’s origin to Wyndham Lewis ‘talking about the shell of a lobster covering the soft flesh inside’. The carapace protects a vulnerable interior, just as a mother shields her child:
The helmet … became a recording of things inside other things. The mystery of semiobscurity where one can only half distinguish something. In the helmet you do not quite know what is inside. ₂
It is an intriguing line of thought, and one that Andrew Causey probed by juxtaposing Moore’s The Helmet with Epstein’s Rock Drill, which likewise shelters an embryo inside its mechanistic ribcage. ₃
Moore’s use of lead for the early versions of the Helmet series was a practical solution to casting his own work. Lead could be melted at a relatively low temperature, from sections of piping, and cast outdoors. Later, Moore cast these same sculptures in bronze to make them less vulnerable to damage. But again, there was an alternative reading. Moore described the original versions as ‘more expressive because lead has a kind of poisonous quality; you feel that if you licked it you might die’. ₄
Helmet (1950) is a maquette for the first numbered sculpture in the series. It has a more open, simplified form from the front, while the back has two pointed apertures and a series of slits, suggesting vents. Echoing this, the inner form is both pointed and curved, containing its own sharp slit. To the top are two circular holes. The catalogue for the Wallace Collection exhibition related the overall shape of this sculpture, with its prominent circular air vents, to the German ‘coalscuttle’ helmet – the M1916 Stahlhelm, which was a sought-after souvenir for British troops in World War I. Moore would have seen such helmets during combat in 1917. ₅
Yet, unlike the larger version of Helmet Head No. 1, the maquette is unique and possesses a distinct history. Cast in 1950, it was chosen in 1952 by Moore and Fritz Eriksson (Head of the Swedish Arts Council) as part of a touring exhibition destined for a year-long tour of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany. An installation photograph shows the two maquettes for Helmet Head No. I and Helmet Head No. 2, side by side on a plinth. To the left is Moore’s stone Composition (1932), subsequently bought by the Tate, and to the right, Half-Figure (1929) in cast concrete, purchased by the British Council in 1948. On the walls, enlarged photographs of further works by Moore indicate the breadth of his practice as a sculptor. Sold to its only owner, Ann Zwinger, in the early 1950s, the maquette for Helmet Head No. 1 was in fact a substitution for a different lead sculpture, which was damaged in transit. The maquette’s base touchingly records this provenance, bearing both the British Council’s exhibition label and the handwritten dedication ‘To Ann Zwinger, from Henry Moore’.
₁ Moore, in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 214.
₃ Andrew Causey, The Drawings of Henry Moore (Lund Humphries, 2010), p. 99.
₄ Moore, in Moore: Head-Helmet: An Exhibition to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Foundation of the University of Durham (Durham: DLI Museum and Arts Centre, 1982), p. 1
₅ Tobias Capwell & Hannah Higham, Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads (London: The Wallace Collection, 2019), p. 86.
Mother and Child on Ladderback Chair, 1952
40.5 x 16 x 42 cm.
Edition of 7 + 1
Edition of 7
Acquired by an eminent USA collector, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1955 (purchased from the above)
Thence by descent
Private Collection, USA
H. Read, Henry Moore, vol. II, Sculpture and Drawings 1949-1954, London, 1965, no. 313, pp. xxvi (illustrated pl. 43).
R. Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1969, London, 1970, no. 431, p. 356 (another cast illustrated).
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore: Sculpture, London, 1981, no. 223, pp. 114 & 311 (detail of another cast illustrated).
W.S. Lieberman, exh. cat., Henry Moore: 60 Years of His Art, New York, 1983, pp. 81 & 123 (another cast illustrated p. 81).
S. Compton, exh. cat., Henry Moore, London, 1988, p. 231, no. 123 (another cast illustrated).
C. Stephens, ed., exh. cat., Henry Moore, London, 2010, no. 125, p. 186 (another cast illustrated).
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Henry Moore Sculpture 1950-1960, November – December 1960, cat.13 (another cast)
Other casts owned by the Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull and the McNay Art Collection, San Antonio, Texas
Created in 1952 and cast in an edition of seven, Henry Moore’s Mother and Child on Ladderback Chair is an enchanting exploration of the tender relationship between parent and child. Capturing the sense of wonder and intense love the two figures share in this moment, the sculpture conveys an impression of the joy that can be found in even the simplest of everyday activities, and was inspired by the artist’s own experiences as a parent following the birth of his beloved daughter Mary in 1946. While the mother and child theme had long fascinated the artist, leading him to consider it one of his fundamental obsessions, the subject took on a new level of importance in his sculptures as he became a father.
When Mary was just four years old the artist designed three small rocking chair sculptures for her amusement, which moved gently backwards and forwards on their curved bases when touched. Each focusing on a seated mother and child, these whimsical, kinetic works moved at different speeds to one another, the shape of their bases and the dispersion of weight in their forms affecting their range of motion. Two years later, in 1952, the artist revisited the subject, adding a more elaborate chair on which his figures could sit, introducing the ‘ladderback’ detailing to its design. A second, enlarged version of this composition was subsequently created, although Moore felt that this new size and weight restricted the potential movement of the sculpture and removed the rocking function, planting the legs of the chair onto a heavy, rectangular base instead, as in the present work.
In keeping with Moore’s style during the opening years of the 1950s, there is a touch of surrealism in his treatment of form, as both figures’ limbs and torsos appear thinned and elongated to new extremes, their heads transformed into abstract, amorphous shapes. The addition of a triangular bib-like protrusion at the woman’s shoulders, meanwhile, creates a new connection between the two bodies, and emphasises the mother’s gaze as she focuses all her attention on her child. In this way, the present work eschews the playful energy of the previous rocking chair sculptures, and instead focuses on the powerful emotional connection that exists between the two figures, imbuing the motif with a new monumentality and sense of permanence.
Mother and Child: Round Form, 1980
19.7 x 11 x 13.6 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition on the back edge of the bronze base
Edition of 9
Private Collection, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
Private Collection, New York (and sold: Sotheby’s, New York, November 13, 1996, lot 314)
Private Collection, London (acquired at the above sale)
Jeanne Frank Gallery, New York
Private Collection (Acquired from the above on March 17, 1997)
Private Collection, London
Alan Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1980-1986, vol. 6, London, 1988, p. 51, no. 789, illustration of another cast pl. 38
Dimensions include the artist’s bronze base
A cast from the edition is owned by the The Yale Center for British Art, USA
Reviewing Moore’s eightieth-birthday exhibition at Fischer Fine Art, which juxtaposed recent sculptures with those from the 1920s and ’30s, John Glaves-Smith drew attention to the persistence of the rounded female figures. Even in the interwar period, when women – deprived of calories, then taking up tennis and hockey – strove for the boyishly svelte silhouette of the ‘flapper’, Moore’s figures remained ample, replete with curves. ₁ The most salient exception would be his post-war Mother and Child (1953), a tense pairing in which the child appears to peck, ravenously, at its mother’s breast. In this composition, the mother strains away from the child, her waist attenuated, her head serrated in defence.
Mother and Child Round Form (1980) demonstrates the persistence of Moore’s monumental vision. The female figure is non-sexualised, seeming to exist only in relation to the child, whom she regards intently. The composition centres on the child, its mother arguably providing little more than a context: a support. To this end, the female figure is largely devoid of non-essential detail. There is the merest indication of breasts, and hands to clasp. Legs, lacking purpose, are truncated, while weight sediments towards the cushion of the mother’s lap. The effect is far from stolid, however. As almost invariably with the subject of mother and child, Moore imbues the composition with timelessness and universality.
₁ John Glaves-Smith, ‘Exhibitions: Henry Moore’, Art Monthly (September 1978), p. 19.
Mother with Twins, 1982
12.8 x 8.5 x 11 cm.
Signed and numbered on the base
Edition of 9 + 1
Marlborough Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above in June 1983
Henry Moore, 85th Birthday Exhibition: stone carvings, bronze sculptures, drawings (exhibition catalogue), Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1986, illustration of another cast p. 66
Alan Bowness, ed., Henry Moore Complete Sculpture 1980-1986, vol. 6, London, 1986, no. 873, illustrations of another cast p. 54 & pl. 114
Dimensions include artist’s bronze base
A cast from the edition is in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art, gifted by Jeffrey Loria
The original plaster for this work is in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation and visible in the Bourne maquette studio. One child is shown with the mother.
Moore made several drawings for and of this sculpture, using the device of two children to emphasise the interaction between the children and the mother. This is the only recorded sculpture with this theme
Reclining Figures, 1943
Pencil, charcoal, wax crayons, pen, ink & wash on paper
45.6 x 64.7 cm.
Signed & dated lower left 'Moore 43' & with various inscriptions by the artist
Private Collection, Chicago (acquired before 1950 & thence by descent)
Private Collection, USA
Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Drawings, vol.3, 1940-49, Aldershot, 2001, no.AG43.107; HMF 2156, ills.p.196
Stanford, Iris & B Gerald Cantor Centre for Visual Arts, Stanford University, on loan, March 2000
This drawing is reminiscent of a work from the same period Reclining Figures: Ideas for Stone Sculpture, 1944, in which each figure appears in an individual pod in a subterranean setting, recalling the mysterious fascination that caves in hillsides and cliffs held for the artist. Moore’s interest in underground landscapes had previously been expressed in his ‘Shelter Drawings’ series of 1941, depicting figures taking refuge in the London Underground during the Blitz, and in his coal mining drawings of the same year.
Reclining Figure: Fragment, 1952
9 x 14 x 7.8 cm.
Signed, numbered and stamped with foundry mark, at the base.
Edition of 9
Lefevre Gallery, London
Private Collection, purchased at the November 1972 exhibition
Thence by descent
Osborne Samuel, London
Exhibition catalogue, Mostra di Henry Moore, Florence, Forte di Belvedere, 1972, n.p., no. 75, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Small Bronzes and Drawings by Henry Moore, London, Lefevre Gallery, 1972, pp. 54-55, no. 24, illustrated. (this cast)
A. Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture 1949-54, Vol. 2, London, 1986, p. 43, no. 331a, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore: Sketch Models and Working Models, London, Southbank Centre, 1990, p. 31, no. 13, fig. 25, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore In the Light of Greece, Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, 2000, p. 157, no. 17, another cast illustrated.
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: A Monumental Vision, Cologne, 2005, p. 217, no. 304, another cast illustrated, not traced.
Florence, Forte di Belvedere, Mostra di Henry Moore, May – September 1972, no. 75, another cast exhibited.
London, Lefevre Gallery, Small Bronzes and Drawings by Henry Moore, November – December 1972, no. 24. (this cast)
Madrid, British Council, Palacio de Velázquez, Henry Moore: Sculptures, Drawings and Graphics 1921-1981, May – August 1981, no. 135, another cast exhibited.
London, Southbank Centre, Henry Moore: Sketch Models and Working Models, 1990, no. 13, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Coventry, Mead Gallery, May – June 1990; Huddersfield, Art Gallery, June – August 1990; Wrexham, Library Arts Centre, August – October 1990; Bristol, Museum and Art Gallery, October – November 1990; Eastbourne, Towner Art Gallery, December 1990 – January 1991; Exeter, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, January – March 1991; Stirling, Smith Art Gallery, March – April 1991.
Andros, Museum of Contemporary Art, Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Henry Moore In the Light of Greece, June – September 2000, no. 17, another cast exhibited.
Rocking Chairs, 1948
Pencil, wax crayon, watercolor wash, pen and ink on paper
55.9 x 38.1 cm.
Unsigned and undated
Curt Valentin, Buchholz Gallery, New York
Mrs. Vera List, philanthropist and supporter of contemporary art, Greenwich, Connecticut
Thence by descent
Osborne Samuel Ltd
Henry Moore, Volume Two: Sculpture and Drawings Since 1948, (London: Lund Humphries, 1955)
Robert Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1970)
Ann Garrould, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Drawings, Volume 3, 1940-49; (London and Much Hadham: Lund Humphries, 2001, p.288, ref AG48.43; HMF 2515
New York, New York, Buchholz Gallery, Henry Moore, March 6-31, 1951, illustrated cat no. 66 (in this catalogue the drawing is incorrectly dated 1949)
This work is registered in the Henry Moore Foundation archives as HMF 2515 and research file number 2020.38.
Rocking Chairs was purchased at Buchholz Gallery in 1951. The drawing was executed in 1948, four years before the bronze, Mother and Child on Ladderback Rocking Chair. In this drawing, Moore depicts five figure groups on rocking bases, with the
mother figure holding the child in various positions. Each group is three-dimensional, indicating that Moore conceived of the figure group as a sculpture from the beginning.
Moore’s series of sculptural rocking chairs was begun in 1950, when his daughter Mary, a much-loved and long-awaited child, was four years old. Although Moore had explored the theme of the mother and child since the 1920s, these new works showed a joy and tenderness born of experience. Will Grohman described them as ‘enchanting impromptus, the offspring of a lighter muse.’ 1 Their creation offers a glimpse both into Moore’s domestic life and the extent to which his personal and creative identity intertwined. Just as he experimented with how to balance the sculptures, so that they rocked perfectly, he would encourage Mary to think practically through play. For her eighth birthday party he produced a set of scales and invented a game to guess the weight of each guest. Moore’s estimates, perhaps unsurprisingly for a sculptor, proved accurate to within a few pounds. 2
Moore’s drawings provide a different insight. In the Rocking Chair Notebook (1947–8) he experimented with radically varied designs for the chair as well as the figures seated within them. The drawing, Rocking Chairs (1948), shows Moore adjusting the postures of mother and child so that each suggests an altered dynamic: from a protective embrace, to the joyous wriggling of the child held aloft, to an independent stepping forward, away from the mother’s arms. While mass is weighed through the technique Moore described as ‘sectional drawing’, dividing surfaces into jigsaw grids to highlight curves and planes, relatively little attention is paid to the chairs’ potential for movement: certain of the rockers seem implausibly flat. Instead, Moore lavishes his imagination on the figures. Grohmann noted how such variation developed across the span of the rocking chair series, although his words apply equally to this sheet of drawings: ‘heads became archaic knots, the bodies clothed skeletons, but the expression remains elated.’ 3
Rocking Chairs was bought in 1951 by the American philanthropist and collector, Vera List (1908–2002), from the Buchholz Gallery in New York. List, who a year later bought Moore’s Mother and Child on Ladderback Rocking Chair (1952), was an early and dedicated patron. In 1961 she and her husband sponsored the commission of Moore’s large-scale Reclining Figure (1963–5), in bronze, for New York’s Lincoln Center.
1. Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, new enlarged edition (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1960), p. 142.
2. Mary Moore, in Elizabeth Day, ‘The Moore Legacy’, The Observer (27 July 2008).
3. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, p. 143
Female Figure, 1988, 1988
190.5 x 101.6 x 50.8 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 6
Edition of 6
Waddington Galleries Ltd, London
Private Collection USA, purchased from the above in 1989
Osborne Samuel, London
Private Collection, Canada (purchased from the above in 2014)
Davidson, Amanda, The Sculpture of William Turnbull , published by Lund Humphries, 2005, p.175, no. 263
Waddington Galleries, Solo exhibition, 1991, cat 9 (illus. p.23)
The idols Turnbull made in the 1980s revisit forms from the 1950s, demonstrating an essential seam within his sculptural thinking. Female Figure (1980) presents a vertical slab, scrolled at the top to suggest a head, gently scored towards the base to imply a robe. Arms become curved pipes, a counter-positioned wedge suggests feet, but the most salient feature is the figure’s breasts, implausibly and voluptuously placed.
The figure clearly suggests fertility: a goddess or idol, resonating with both ancient and more recent history. In rituals – whether pagan or religious – the chalice or jug is often equated with birth, as a parallel to the pregnant figure. One of the most significant transferences within modern sculpture is Germaine Richier’s L’Eau (1953), or Water, in which she incorporated the fragment of a terracotta amphora, found on a beach at Camargue, as the neck of a seated figure. The hooped handles of the vessel, just as the arms of Turnbull’s Female Figure, evoke a symbolic link to water, a source for life.
Slim in profile, despite its towering height and material heft, Female Figure evinces both grace and a sense of joyousness, expressed by its arms – curved, hand on hip, or open to embrace. There is a recapturing, too, of the spirit of Acrobat (1951), made at the beginning of Turnbull’s career, who balances exuberantly and fearlessly, arms outstretched.