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

Family Group

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Family Group
signed 'MOORE' (on the left side of the bench)
bronze with green and brown patina
Height: 7 ¾ in. (19.7 cm.)
Conceived in 1945 and cast in the artist's lifetime
Lord Kenneth Clark, Saltwood (acquired from the artist).
The Honorable Colette Clark, Oxford (gift from the above).
Fischer Fine Art, Ltd., London.
Acquired from the above the late owners, 23 May 1977.
D. Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture 1921-1948, London, 1957, vol. 1, p. 15, no. 238.
J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 176, no. 4 (another cast illustrated; plaster version illustrated, pp. 163 and 269; dated 1944).
R. Melville, ed., Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, London, 1970, no. 376 (another cast illustrated).
G. di San Lazzaro, "Homage to Henry Moore," Cahier's d'Art, 1972, p. 45 (terracotta version illustrated).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore: Sculptures and Drawings 1964-73, London, 1977, vol. 4, p. 10 (terracotta version illustrated, pl. A).
B. von Erich Steingräber, "Henry Moore Maquetten" in Pantheon, 1978, p. 24 (terracotta version illustrated fig. 23).
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture, London, 1981, p. 310, no. 174 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 94).
R. Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, London, 1987, fig. 88 (terracotta version illustrated).
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: A Monumental Vision, Cologne, 2005, p. 210, no. 239 (another cast illustrated, p. 211).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

The Family Groups are Moore’s most socially-minded sculptures, and considered perhaps the most admired subject in his oeuvre. He conceived this idea for a public commission related to the building of new towns and schools in Britain before the Second World War. It was not until 1944, however, during the height of the war, that it appeared funding for the commission might finally become available. Moore sculpted models of triadic as well as four-figure family groups. The combination of both parents plus two children was capable of generating more varied arrangements and a wider range of emotional expression.
These sculptures celebrated the nation’s anticipated return to peacetime well-being and the pleasures of family life. Moore intended that they should inspire a renewed emphasis on fundamental humanist values, while providing an aesthetic model for community spirit and co-operation, with the promise of progressive social services for all. These sculptures rejoice in the start of new young families. After a half-decade of wartime casualties and a low birth rate, to once again become fruitful and multiply was a crucial requirement for the economic and social revival of Britain during the post-war era.
Moore carried a lifelong dedication to the theme and depiction of family. His very first surviving stone carving, executed in 1922, was entitled Mother and Child (Lund Humphries, no. 3). By 1940, of the more than 150 sculptures he had produced to that date, 22 were versions of the Mother and Child theme. This subject had become something of an obsession for the sculptor; it allowed him to create a formal interaction between two figures—one small, the other much larger—based on their powerful and affecting emotional connection. At the same time, each of the figures contributed their particular weight and volume to form a single, unified, plastic entity.
In 1943, during the early years of the Second World War, Moore was commissioned to carve a Madonna and Child for St. Matthew's Church in Northampton, England. This project provided the sculptor an opportunity to cast the mother and child theme in a traditional sacred context, in which the figures took on qualities, as Moore described them, "of austerity, and a nobility, and some touch of grandeur (even hieratic aloofness) which is missing in the everyday 'Mother and Child' idea" (quoted in A. Wilkinson, Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 267).
The Family Group theme materialized when Moore was asked by Henry Morris and Walter Gropius to create a sculpture for a village college at Impington near Cambridge. The college's ideal of both child and adult education in a single institution appealed to Moore, who was clearly preoccupied with the link between parent and child. The occasion of a commission for a public sculpture, this time on behalf of an educational institution, encouraged the sculptor to consider the importance of the family as the primary human social unit whose close interpersonal relationships provided an exemplary guide for wider communal values.
Will Grohmann discusses the subject of the family group, “In the years between 1944 and 1947 he [Moore] produced a number of larger and smaller variations in stone, bronze and terracotta, differing considerably from one another, being both naturalistic and non-naturalistic, though never as abstract as the 'reclining figures'. The theme does not hem him in, but it demands a certain readiness to enter into the meaning of a community such as the family” (W. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, p. 141).

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