Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more MASTERWORKS FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4
signed and numbered 'Moore 0/8' (on the top of the base); stamped with the foundry mark 'CIRE PERDUE Morris Singer FOUNDERS LONDON' (on the side of the base)
bronze with green patina
Length (including base): 42 7/8 in. (109 cm.)
Width (including base): 23 1/4 in. (59 cm.)
Height (including base): 29 1/2 in. (75 cm.)
Conceived in 1961 and cast in an edition of eight plus one
Mary Moore (the artist's daughter).
Marlborough Gallery, London.
Vanthournout Collection, Belgium, by whom acquired from the above in the 1960s; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 7 November 2006, lot 77.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
I. Jianou, Henry Moore, Paris, 1968, no. 464, p. 99 (another cast illustrated).
R. Melville, Henry Moore, Brussels, 1971, no. 622-24 (another cast illustrated).
G. di San Lazzaro, Homage to Henry Moore, Special issue of the XX Siècle Review, Paris, 1972, p. 76 (another cast illustrated p. 71).
Exh. cat., Henry Moore, The Reclining Figure, Columbus Museum of Art, 1984, no. 44 (another cast illustrated p. 75 and on the cover).
A. Bowness & H. Read, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, vol. 3, Sculpture, 1955-64, London, 1986, no. 479 (another cast illustrated pls. 112-115 ).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Anna Povejsilova
Anna Povejsilova

Lot Essay

‘I realised what an advantage a separated two-part composition could have in relating figures to landscape. Knees and breasts are mountains. Once these two parts become separated, you don’t expect it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore you can justifiably make it like a landscape or a rock’ (Moore, quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot, 2002, p. 288).

Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4, executed in 1961, demonstrates the boldly innovative step Moore took at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s, in splitting the reclining figure into two separate parts. One of the central themes of Moore’s work, the reclining figure allowed him freedom to experiment with space and form and provided inexhaustible inspiration. As he said of his repeated use of this motif, ‘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’ (Moore, quoted in ibid., p. 212).

In Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4, Moore takes this key subject and divides it into two distinct, biomorphically-shaped forms: the figure’s head and torso, and the figure’s outstretched legs. As early as 1934, Moore had experimented with multipartite figures, however it was not until 1959 that he began to boldly split the figure into these separate parts. Moore recognised the infinite visual possibilities this division engendered. He explained, ‘The front view doesn’t enable one to foresee the back view. As you move around it, the two parts overlap or they open up and there’s space between. Sculpture is like a journey. You have a different view as you return’ (Moore, quoted in ibid., p. 288). In Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4, Moore has succeeded in creating a sculpture that is truly ‘in the round’. This division of form encourages these pieces to lose their original figural meaning, instead becoming abstract formations that take on wider associations; the empty spaces between the pieces become as much a part of the sculpture as the bronze forms themselves.

The rolling, biomorphic curves and rhythmic undulations of the figural forms in Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4 evoke the organic, natural contours of the landscape. From certain viewpoints the shapes, hollows, and textured surface of the forms appear as rocks and rolling hills within a landscape, or a cave in the side of a coastal cliff. Human forms have become interchangeable with natural landscape formations. Moore had, by abstracting and distorting the horizontal human figure, discovered a harmonious equivalence between the natural contours of the landscape and human anatomy. Realising the expressive potential of this fusion Moore stated, ‘these sculptures are a mixture, an amalgamation of the human body with rock-forms and with landscape, and so like a metaphor in poetry giving to each element a new aspect, and perhaps a new meaning’ (Moore, quoted in ibid., p. 289). Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4 is a poetic, visual expression of the analogy and shared organic vitality between the landscape and figurative representation. Imbued with a sense of majestic grandeur, Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4 illustrates the great British sculptor’s unique ability to transform the reclining figure into a site of innovative expression.

Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 4 is part of an edition of nine, of which other casts are housed in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and City Art Gallery, Wakefield.

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