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.
Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone Skirt, 1977-1979
35 x 69 x 36 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 9 on the base
Edition of 9
Private Collection, London
Alan Bowness, ed., Henry Moore Complete Sculpture 1980-1986, vol. 5, London, 1986, no. 723, p. 34-35 & pls. 124 & 125.
The classic sculpture Reclining Figure – Bone Skirt, is one of Moore’ s most recognisable and iconic figures. This is the working model for a marble sculpture which was owned by his daughter Mary and was subsequently reworked as a monumental carving in travertine marble dating from 1978. At the time Moore was spending the summers at a villa he had built near the Carrara quarries in Italy. Moore observed in 1931: “The human figure is what interests me deeply, but I have found principles of form and rhythm from the study of natural objects such as pebbles, rocks, bones, trees, plants … bones have marvellous structural strength and hard tenseness of form, subtle transition of one shape into the next…”
Moore returned again and again to the reclining figure, initially inspired by the early Mexican Chacmool sculptures he saw at the British Museum in the 1920s. The subject re-occurs throughout his career with infinite variations of form and line, here the use of drapery to accentuate the shape and continuous line of the body.
I want to be quite free of having to find a ‘ reason’ for doing the Reclining Figures, and freer still of having to find a ‘ meaning’ for them. The vital thing for an artist is to have a subject that allows to try out all kinds of formal ideas – things that he doesn’ t yet know about for certain but wants to experiment with, as Cézanne did in his ‘ Bathers’ series. In my case the reclining figure provides chances of that sort. The subject-matter is given. It’ s settled for you, and you know it and like it, so that within it, within the subject that you’ ve done a dozen times before, you are free to invent a completely new form-idea.
Henry Moore quoted in John Russell, Henry Moore , Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, London 1968, p.28
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.
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.
Maquette for Square Form with Cut, 1969
20.5 x 13.5 x 20.4 cm.
Signed and numbered from the edition of 9 on the back of the base
Edition of 9
Annely Juda Fine Art, London (acquired from the artist in 1971)
Private Collection (Acquired from the above, 1971)
Osborne Samuel, London
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, 1964-73, London, 1977, no. 597 (another cast illustrated, p. 57).
Maquette for Square Form with Cut (1969) is a sculpture in its own right, beautifully conceived and realised. Softly patinated, its intimate scale draws the viewer close, to experience first its weight and compactness, then its gentle tilt, encouraging light to gleam upon and enhance its contours. The most satisfying aspect of the maquette is its completeness: despite the cut and void, its surfaces are seamless, its proportions inviting the hand to reach into the centre and lift it. Thus it is intriguing to follow its transformation into one of Moore’s largest sculptures.
Not long after completing the maquette, Moore began to plan an exhibition for the Forte di Belvedere, a sixteenth-century fortress overlooking the city of Florence. Using maquettes and photographs, he envisaged the layout. In the case of Square Form with Cut, he installed first a working model in polystyrene, then a full-sized version in polystyrene and plaster, assembled on-site at the Forte di Belvedere. The final version, 5.45m high and weighing 180 tonnes, was carved from white Italian marble, cut into sixty horizontal sections to facilitate transport and lifting, by crane, over the ramparts. In images of the finished work in 1972, superbly photographed by David Finn against the skyline of Florence and its distant mountains, the ribbing of these sections can just be seen, adding a rhythmic texture and stratification to the sculpture. Moore made versions of the intermediate-sized working model in concrete, fibreglass and black marble. Each has its own aptness, while the maquette, as fons et origo, represents the idea’s unelaborated essence: the vital germ of the idea.
Maquette for Curved Mother and Child, 1980
18.5 x 9 x 8.41 cm.
Signed and numbered on the base
Edition of 9
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg,
Private Collection, Australia, 1980’s
Private Collection, UK
Osborne Samuel, London
Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Sculptures and Drawings, Sculpture 1980-86, Volume 6 , Lund Humphries, London, 1999, cat.no.791
John Hedgecoe, The Sculpture of Henry Moore , published by Collins & Brown, 1998, no. 669, p. 242
“From very early on I have had an obsession with the Mother and Child theme. It has been a universal theme from the beginning of time and some of the earliest sculptures we’ve found from the Neolithic Age are of a Mother and Child. I discovered, when drawing, I could turn every little scribble, blot or smudge into a Mother and Child.” ₁
Moore’s words, well known as they are, still prompt thought. As a young artist in the 1920s, he spent hours studying the collections of the British Museum in London and Musée de l’Homme in Paris. His drawings make clear the impact of these discoveries as well the agility with which he was able to transform his themes: moulding, caressing, even on occasions harrying his material. What emerges is one of the most profound studies, in the twentieth century, of a single subject: the mother and child.
A cursory selection, from across Moore’s career, demonstrates this breadth. A heavy-set, somewhat foursquare Mother and Child (1924–5), carved from green Hornton stone, contrasts with a translucent alabaster Suckling Child (1930), which tenderly fragments and abstracts from the human form. From the next decades we might choose Moore’s serenely Northampton Madonna and Child (1943–4), a Mother and Child (1952) in which a ravenous-beaked child is restrained at arm’s length, and the tiny, almost toy-like Mother and Child: Wheels (1962). If the 1960s proved relatively sparse, the 1970s saw a regathering of momentum as well as a scattering of Moore’s approach: from sculptural picture frames, reliefs and egg forms to homages – recalling Pisano, Rubens, ‘Paleo’ and the ‘Gothic’.
The distinction between the ‘mother and child’ and ‘Madonna and Child’ is significant. When Moore was approached to create the Northampton Madonna and Child (1943–4), he was initially hesitant as to whether he could produce a religious rather than secular work of art:
It’s not easy to describe in words what this difference is, except by saying in general terms that the ‘Madonna and Child’ should have an austerity and a nobility, and some touch of grandeur (even hieratic aloofness) which is missing in the everyday ‘Mother and Child’ idea.₂
Exploring the idea, Moore produced a series of maquettes. The proposed context and medium required a certain solemnity, reflected, in the chosen version, by the weight of drapery around the Madonna’s knees, and the breadth of her capacious lap, as she shelters the child. As Moore wrote, ‘I have tried to give a sense of complete easiness and repose, as though the Madonna could stay in that position for ever (as, being in stone, she will have to do)’. ₃
Such immobility provides a useful measure against which to compare studies of the mother and child unconnected to a religious context. Perhaps the greatest change, as Moore moved from the 1970s into the 1980s, would be an increased sense of intimacy and domesticity. Neither mother nor child is required to remain still. A child scrambles over its mother’s reclining figure, or balances on her knees, arms reaching towards her breast. In the drawings, Moore depicts the mother from behind, gently rocking the child, as it turns, or rests its head on her shoulder. These are informal poses, for which the most obvious precedent is Moore’s series of rocking chair sculptures, from the late 1940s to 1950.
Maquette for Curved Mother and Child (1980) continues this rocking theme. The mother’s body tilts as she cradles and rocks the child, such that her arms and the child’s outstretched limbs intertwine. The mother’s legs are cocooned in a closely fitting dress, emphasising the counterbalancing twist of her torso. A similar curve characterises the form of Seated Mother and Child: Thin (1980), where the child is supported upright on the mother’s hip. In Maquette for Curved Mother and Child, however, the arc is present in every aspect of its composition: from the mother’s neck to her spine and legs – even the child’s loose-limbed body – each element twisting in a slightly different direction. Moore’s maquette was enlarged in 1983, gaining in stylization if perhaps losing the immediacy of this diminutive version.
Moore acknowledged the impact that life may exert on an artist’s work, and how the birth of his daughter, in 1946, ‘re-invoked’ for him the mother and child theme. ₄ If this is the case, the fresh approach of the later works may indeed have resulted from the birth of his grandchild, in 1977. Maquette for Curved Mother and Child captures a joyous, carefree moment, witnessed as if at close hand.
₁ Moore, in Henry Spencer Moore, photographed and edited by John Hedgecoe (London: Thomas Nelson, 1968), p. 213.
₂ Moore, in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations (Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2002), p. 267.
₄ See Moore, in Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, p. 66.
Maquette for Reclining Figure No 2, 1952
10.8 x 27.5 x 12.5 cm.
Not inscribed or numbered as was the case at this time in the artist's career
Edition of 11 + 1
Galerie Uterman, Dortmund
Private Collection,1993 (acquired from the above)
Sotheby’ s London. 2005 (consigned from the above)
Private Collection, London
Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, no. 56, n.p. (another example illustrated)
Alan Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture 1949-54, vol. 2, London, 1965, no. 328, pp. 42-43 (another example illustrated, p. 42)
Orange, Chapman College, Henry Moore, January 31 – February 14, 1964
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Henry Moore in Southern California, October 2 – November 18, 1973, no. 37
Dimensions include the artist’s bronze base
(Dimensions of Reclining Figure without the artist’s bronze base H: 11 cm; L: 24.5 cm x W: 9.0 cm)