Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Property from a Private American Collection
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Reclining Figure

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Reclining Figure
signed and numbered 'Moore 2/6' (on the left side of the base)
bronze with golden brown and black patina
Length: 21 in. (53.3 cm.); Height: 9 7/8 in. (25.3 cm.)
Conceived in 1931 and cast in 1963
Gustav Kahnweiler, London (acquired from the artist).
Private collection, United Kingdom (acquired from the above, June 1965).
Private collection, United Kingdom (by descent from the above); sale, Christie's, London, 1 July 1998, lot 30.
Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., Inc., New York (acquired at the above sale).
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 13 August 1998.
H. Read, intro., Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, New York, 1949, no. 100 (lead version illustrated).
W. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, p. 6, no. 20 (lead version illustrated).
D. Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture, 1921-48, London, 1969, vol. 1, p. 7, no. 101 (lead version illustrated, p. 76).
R. Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1969, London, 1970, p. 341, no. 61 (lead version illustrated).
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture, With Comments By The artist, Barcelona, 1981, p. 309, no. 67 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 52).
H. Moore and J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, San Francisco, 1986, pp. 74-75 (another cast illustrated).
D. Mitchinson, Celebrating Moore, Los Angeles, 1998, p. 126, no. 56 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 125).
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: A Monumental Vision, Cologne, 2005, p. 200, no. 88 (another cast illustrated, p. 201).

Lot Essay

One of Moore's earliest works intended for casting in metal, Reclining Figure, 1931 is a significant formal departure from his massive, totemic sculptures inspired by Aztec and Mayan carvings. Informed by the Surrealist biomorphic shapes of Pablo Picasso's beach paintings of the same year, as well as the sinuous, elongated forms of Max Ernst, Moore stretched and twisted the human form, opening up the torso of the figure to expose what appears to be the rib cage. This is the first instance in Moore's oeuvre of the pierced form, later to become incorporated in his string sculptures. Such formal daring could not be achieved within the technique of stone carving, hence Moore's decision to experiment with lead: "The lead figures came at a stage in my sculpture career when I wanted to experiment with thinner forms than stone could give and, of course, in metal you can have very thin forms. So this thinness that one could make and this desire for making space became something I wanted to do. Yet I couldn't afford in those days to make plasters and have them cast into bronze because I would have had to send them and pay a huge fee to the bronze foundry. Whereas lead I could melt on the kitchen stove and pour it into a mould myself. In fact I ruined by wife's saucepans because the lead was so heavy that it bent the handles and the pans were sometimes put out of shape. But I could mould it myself and do the casting myself and it was soft enough when cast to work on it and give a refinement; I could cut it down thinner, and finish the surface, so for me lead was both economically possible and physically more reliable" (quoted in D. Mitchinson, ed., op. cit., p. 75).

In 1963, when Henry Moore had attained sufficient financial independence and critical acclaim, he personally supervised the casting of the present work in bronze, finally allowing it to be seen as it was originally intended.

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