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

Upright Internal/External Form

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Upright Internal/External Form
bronze with green patina
Height: 79 ¾ in. (202.6 cm.)
Conceived in 1952-1953 and cast in 1958-1960
Private collection (acquired from the artist by the family of the owner, February 1961); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 13 November 1990, lot 59A.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, pp. 198-199, nos. 1-2 (another cast illustrated).
J. Russell, Henry Moore, London, 1968, p. 143, nos. 70 and 71 (another cast illustrated).
D. Finn, Henry Moore at the British Museum, New York, 1981, p. 81 (another cast illustrated).
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture, New York, 1981, p. 118, no. 240 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 119).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture: 1949-54, London, 1986, vol. 2, p. 35, no. 296 (other casts illustrated, p. 34 and pls. 56-59).
R. Bethoud, The Life of Henry Moore, New York, 1987, pp. 237-238.
D. Mitchinson, Celebrating Moore, Berkeley, 1998, no. 162 (another cast illustrated in color).
A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 277 (wood version illustrated, fig. 114).
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Henry Moore: Sculpture 1950-1960, November-December 1960, no. 22 (illustrated).
Florence, Forte Belvedere, Henry Moore, May-September 1972, no. 78 (illustrated).

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Jessica Fertig
Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

"Sculpture for me must have life in it, vitality," Moore stated in 1960. "It must have a feeling for organic form, a certain pathos and warmth" (interview with E. Roditi, Dialogues on Art, Santa Barbara, 1980, p. 195). In undated notes, presumably from the early 1950s, the sculptor made it clear how he pursued this aim—he sought to create "FORM FROM THE INSIDE OUTWARDS. Tension & inner force of forms. Force, Power, is made by forms straining or pressing from inside" (A. Wilkinson, ed., op. cit., 2002, p. 205). We sense this dynamism in any Moore sculpture. In Upright Internal/External Form, Moore went one remarkable step further. He has actually laid open the external aspect of the sculpture to reveal the potent, germinal force that lies within and inexorably pushes outward.
Numerous analogies, compelling poetic metaphors, immediately resonate within the viewer’s imagination. "It is certainly one of Moore's most impressive inventions," Julie Summers wrote, "and is susceptible to many interpretations, from the strictly physical one of a child in the womb to the more psychological, involving notions of containing and being contained" (Henry Moore, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes, 1996, p. 123). Moore surely had as much in mind when he conceived the subject as a work to be carved in elm wood, "a natural and living material," he wrote. "It was very necessary to be carved in wood, which is alive and warm and gives a sense of growth... These qualities were in harmony with the idea, which is a sort of embryo being protected by an outer form, a mother and child idea, of the stamen in a flower, that is, something young and growing being protected by an outer shell" (A. Wilkinson, ed., op. cit., 2002, p. 277).
Moore had been obsessed with the idea to "get one form to stay alive inside another" since the early 1930s (quoted in J. Russell, op. cit., 1968, p. 143). He explained how a standing female Malanggan figure, carved in wood, found in Papua New Guinea and on view at the British Museum, “made a tremendous impression on me through their use of forms within a form. I realized what a sense of mystery could be achieved by having the inside partly hidden, so that you have to move around the sculpture to understand it” (Henry Moore at the British Museum, New York, 1981, p. 81).
Inspiration came from other quarters as well. “I spent many hours in the Wallace Collection, in London, looking at armor," Moore recalled. "Now armor is an outside shell like the shell of a snail which is there to protect the more vulnerable forms inside, as it is in human armor which is hard and put on to protect the soft body. This has led sometimes to the idea of the Mother and Child where the outer form, the mother, is protecting the inner form, the child, like a mother does protect her child.” Moreover, as the sculptor recounted in a 1967 interview, "it may be that I remembered reading stories that impressed me and Wyndham Lewis talking about the shell of a lobster covering the soft flesh inside. This became an established idea with me—that of an outer protection to an inner form... a recording of things inside other things. The mystery of semi-obscurity where one can only half distinguish something" (A. Wilkinson, ed., op. cit., 2002, pp. 213-214).
Anticipating this notion in Moore's earlier oeuvre is Two Forms, 1934 (Lund Humphries, no. 153), in which a curved, hollowed-out form appears as if it were about to envelope a smaller stone-like shape, either to protect it or, more sinisterly, to consume it. Moore's first actual foray into Internal/External Form was The Helmet, 1939-1940 (Lund Humphries, no. 212). Here a hollow form styled after an ancient Greek helmet, with its pronounced cheek-guards, shields a fragile-looking figure within. Moore explored this idea in various sketch-book pages during 1947-1948 (see sale, Christie’s New York, 16 May 2017, lot __), and in 1950 he created more Helmet Heads (Lund Humphries, nos. 278-281 and 283).
"The first maquette [Lund Humphries, no. 294] for the wood 'Internal and External Forms’ was produced in 1951," Moore recorded. "Later the same year I made a working model (24 1/2" high), which was cast into bronze [no. 295]. The idea was always intended to be worked out life-size, and to be in wood. But large and sound pieces of wood are not easily found, and it was after trying unsuccessfully for a year to find a suitable piece of wood that I decided I should have to make it in plaster for bronze, and this I did (6'7" high). This was completed and about to be sent to the bronze foundry for casting when my local timber merchant informed he had a large elm tree just come in which he thought would be exactly what I wanted. It was a magnificent tree... I bought it, and decided not to go on with the bronze version but to carry out the idea as originally intended as a wood sculpture" (ibid., p. 277).
Moore began to carve the wood version in 1953. Recently cut down, the elm wood was not yet seasoned; the sculptor carved it slowly over the period of the next two years, until the huge piece 106 in. (261.5 cm.) was thoroughly dried out and sufficiently aged. Seymour Knox, the director of the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York, saw the sculpture in 1955 and convinced his board to purchase it; it would have likely gone otherwise to the collector Joseph Hirshhorn. Three bronze casts, including the present sculpture, were produced from the plaster model in 1958. Moore created in 1981-1982 a monumental version, 22 feet high, as a unique bronze cast for the atrium of 3 National Plaza, Chicago (Lund Humphries, no. 297a).
While carving the upright sculpture in elm wood, Moore also conceived Reclining Figure: Internal/External Form, which he cast as a “working model” only (Lund Humphries, no. 299). He created a plaster model for the internal form of the full-size version (Lund Humphries, no. 300), but destroyed it, finally deciding to cast only the outer form 84 inches (213.5 cm.) as Reclining Figure: External Form in 1957 (Lund Humphries, no. 299). “I decided the external form made a better sculpture on its own,” Moore explained. “The interesting result for me is that the interior form remains by implication" (quoted in J. Hedgecoe, op. cit., 1968, p. 200).
The Jungian psychoanalyst Erich Neumann, author of The Great Mother (1955), believed that the internal form in the present sculpture was not only the child within the womb, but “the psyche itself, for which the body, like the world, is merely the circumambient space that shelters or casts out... Mother of life, mother of death, and all-embracing body-self, the archetypal mother of man's ego consciousness—this truly great sculpture of Moore's is all these in one" (The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London, 1959, p. 128).

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