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    Sale 1901

    Impressionist And Modern Art Day Sale

    7 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 513

    Henry Moore (1898-1986)

    Three Standing Figures

    Price Realised  


    Henry Moore (1898-1986)
    Three Standing Figures
    numbered '1/7' (on the top of the base); stamped with foundry mark 'C. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE' (on the back of the base)
    bronze with black patina
    Height: 9¼ in. (23.4 cm.)
    Conceived and cast in 1945

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    At the onset of the Second World War, as materials become difficult to obtain, Henry Moore was forced to turn his focus from sculpture to drawing. He was asked by Sir Kenneth Clark early in the war to assume the role of a salaried war artist. Although he initially resisted the offer based on the belief that his work was not well suited to wartime subjects, he found himself increasingly occupied with the theme. The war affected him personally when he was forced to abandon both his home in Kent and then the studio space in London that he was renting from Ben Nicholson after it was damaged during a bombing raid. It was around this time that Moore encountered the topic that would become central to his wartime work.

    While returning from a dinner party in Central London one evening, Moore and his wife had to seek refuge on the platform of a nearby Underground station. It was there that he witnessed the tragic effects of war on common Londoners. The platforms were filled with huddled figures seeking shelter from the raids above. Moore later recalled, "I saw hundreds of Henry Moore reclining figures stretched along the platform. I was fascinated, visually. I went back again and again" (quoted in Henry Moore, Sculpting the 20th Century, exh. cat., Dallas Museum of Art, 2001, p. 144). These tragic scenes of huddled groups, with their sense of calm expectancy, both monumental and sculptural in appearance, occupied Moore for the next two years.

    As the war came to a close, the artist's focus shifted back to sculpture. Echoing the themes of his shelter drawings, Moore's post-War figures took on a more compassionate and human quality. He began working on several large outdoor sculpture commissions including the commission for Three Standing Figures of 1947-1948, which stands in Battersea Park, London (Sylvester, vol. I, no. 268), and for which the present work is a study.

    In 1945, Moore executed two sketch models for Three Standing Figures: the first in terracotta, and the second in a bronze edition, which includes the present work. Both the terracotta and the bronze sketch models closely relate to the final stone sculpture. In all three versions, Moore arranges the figures side-by-side, casually draped and staring off into the distance. Despite its small scale, the present work successfully achieves the monumentality and permanence conveyed by the larger carved stone version. In discussing Three Standing Figures, Moore states:

    The three Battersea Standing Figures in Darley Dale sandstone are probably the first big sculptures that showed the influence of my war drawings. Although the figures are static, I made them look into the distance, as if they were expecting something dramatic to happen. Drama can be implied without the appearance of physical action (quoted in D. Mitchinson, ed., op. cit., p. 101).


    Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, November 1950.

    Saleroom Notice

    The Henry Moore Foundation has confirmed that this cast is recorded on its database.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller


    C. Valentin, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, New York, 1949, pls. 56p-56z (monumental stone version illustrated).
    W. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, pls. 129-132 (monumental stone version illustrated).
    J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, pp. 167-169 (monumental stone version illustrated).
    R. Melville, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, London, 1970, p. 353, nos. 365-366 (monumental stone version illustrated, pp. 170-171).
    D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture, with Comments by the Artist, London, 1981, p. 311, nos. 190-192 (plaster and monumental stone versions illustrated, pp. 100-101).
    D. Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture 1921-48, London, 1988, vol. 1, p. 16, no. 258 (terracotta version illustrated, p. 164; monumental stone version illustrated, pp. 165-168).