Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Family group

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Family group
bronze with brown patina
Height: 16 in. (40.6 cm.)
Conceived in 1947 and cast in the artist's lifetime
Obelisk Gallery, London.
Waterman collection, London.
Obelisk Gallery, London.
Acquired by the present owner, circa 1995.
H. Read, Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings, New York, 1949, no. 106j (another cast illustrated).
D. Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings 1921-48, London, 1957, vol. I, p. 16, no. 267 (another cast illustrated, p. 149).
E. Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, New York, 1959, p. 86, no. 53 (another cast illustrated in color).
W. Grohmann, Henry Moore, London, 1960, p. 8, no. 122 (another cast illustrated, pl. 122).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings 1921-48, London, 1965, vol. I, p. 149, no. 267 (another cast illustrated).
I. Jianou, Henry Moore, Paris, 1968, p. 75, no. 251 (another cast illustrated).
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, London, 1970, p. 176, no. 3 (another cast illustrated).
R. Melville, Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, London, 1970, no. 364 (another cast illustrated).
A. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered, The Collection at the Art Gallery of Toronto, Ontario, 1987, p. 129 (another cast illustrated, fig. 61).

Lot Essay

The present Family Group is one of three sculptures on this theme that Moore cast in bronze during 1946-1947; they are enlargements of earlier terracotta models, in this case one done in 1945, measuring 7 7/8 inches in height (Lund Humphries, no. 240; fig. 1).

In contrast to the more naturalistic treatment that Moore accorded the figures in the earliest Family Group terracottas, the present sculpture reveals the sculptor's tendency in the later models to deploy forms that are increasingly abstract. The rounded and flowing lines seen here suggest the surrealist influence that was evident in Moore's work during the 1930s, and would become apparent once again in his sculptures, especially those of reclining women, during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The four-figure Family Groups outnumber the three-figure versions almost two to one. The combination of both parents plus two children offers, on formal grounds alone, many more configurative possibilities than the single child Family Group, allowing for a greater flexibility in emotional expression as well. Moore's characterization of parent-child relationships in the four-member families is remarkably varied, engaging, and delightful to observe. The two children in this Family Group are of equal size, suggesting that they are the same age and are likely fraternal twins--a girl on the left, a boy on the right. A single bow-like bridge resembling a cradle motif connects them. There is a stronger sense here of equivalent balance and symmetry in the arrangement of the figures than is normally seen elsewhere in this series, but this grouping is also based on contrasting elements: both female members of this family--mother and daughter--have been placed on the left side, while the father and son occupy the right hand side.

(fig. 1) Henry Moore, Family Group, 1945. Original terracotta model, later enlarged to create the maquette for the present bronze version; private collection. Photograph by John Hedgecoe.

Barcode: 29175451

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