The gallery will exhibit a collection of sculpture, drawings and prints by Henry Moore drawn from our inventory and include important loans from private collections. The gallery specialises in the work of Henry Moore, this will be the fifth exhibition over the last 30 years. The exhibition will include rare early work and reflect the evolution of his career over 60 years from early student works to the iconic mother and child and reclining figure sculptures and drawings of the last years.
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.