Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Stringed Figure: Bowl

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Stringed Figure: Bowl
signed and numbered 'Moore 7/9' (on the back of the base)
partially polished bronze and string
Height: 21 in. (53.4cm.)
Conceived in 1938
Thomas Gibson Fine Art, Ltd., London (acquired from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the present owners, September 1973.
H.J. Seldis, Henry Moore in America, 1973, p. 264, no. 9 (another cast illustrated, p. 44).
F. Russoli and D. Mitchinson, eds., Henry Moore, Sculpture, with comments from the artist, London, 1981, p. 79, no. 136 (another cast illustrated in color).
D. Mitchinson, ed., Celebrating Moore, Works from the Collection of The Henry Moore Foundation, London, 1998, pp. 168-169, no. 101 (another cast illustrated in color).
A. Bowness, ed., "Addenda to Volume 1, 1921-1948," Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1980-1986, London, 1999, vol. 6, p. 28, no. 186c (another cast illustrated, p. 29 and pl. 21).
Otterlo, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller and Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Henry Moore, May-November 1968, no. 46 (illustrated).

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

“Undoubtedly the source of my stringed figures was the Science Museum. Whilst a student at the R.C.A. I became involved in machine art, which in those days had its place in modern art. Although I was interested in the work of Léger, and the Futurists, who exploited mechanical forms, I was never directly influenced by machinery as such. Its interest for me lies in its capacity for movement, which, after all, is its function” (Moore quoted in J. Hedgecoe, ed., Henry Spencer Moore, New York, 1968, p. 105).
Moore first executed a sculpture incorporating string in 1937, titled Stringed Relief (fig.1; Lund Humphries 182), and would continue to utilize the material in his sculptures for the next two years. While it has been suggested that the work of Naum Gabo, who had arrived in Hampstead in 1935, was a major influence to the artist at the time, Moore’s statement to Hedgecoe leaves no doubt as to the impetus of his inspiration. He goes on to explain: “I was fascinated by the mathematical models I saw there, which had been made to illustrate the difference of the form that is half-way between a square and a circle. One model had a square stone end with twenty holes along each side making eighty holes in all. Through these holes strings were threaded and led to a circle with the same number of holes at the other end. A plane interposed through the middle shows the form that is halfway between a square and a circle. One end could also be twisted to produce forms that would be terribly difficult to draw on a flat surface. It wasn’t the scientific study of these models but the ability to look through the strings as with a bird cage and to see one form within another which excited me” (ibid.). It was these mathematical configurations that prompted the artist to experiment with how string can show lines in space, acting as a barrier while nevertheless allowing the eye to see one form through another.
The present work is a gracefully composed example of these bird cage-like forms within forms that Moore spoke of. Consisting of an organically shaped vertical oval, mounted on a box-shaped base, the vertical oval has a hollowed out, richly patinated interior that contrasts with the highly polished smooth exterior. Two groups of string crisscross each other through the hollow—yellow strings vertically and white horizontally.  The subtle twist of the horizontal strings creates additional visual plays, evoking a basket weave-like structure within the hollow. It is in works like these that Julie Summers has noted a foreshadowing of the internal/external forms Moore would come to in the 1950s: “The external figure here is the hard, solid, defensive surface of the bronze, the interior is the frail stringed figure vulnerable and pale in comparison to the dark, strong bronze of the outer form” (op.cit., 1998, p. 169).

(fig. 1) Henry Moore, Stringed Relief, 1937. The Henry Moore Foundation.

More from Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

View All
View All