Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE TUTTLEMAN COLLECTION
Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)

Mother and Child Against Open Wall

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Mother and Child Against Open Wall
bronze with a brown patina
10¾ in. (27.3 cm.) wide
Conceived in 1956, and cast in an edition of twelve.
Private collection.
with Jeffrey H. Loria & Co, New York.
with Kent Fine Art, New York, July 1986, where purchased by the present owners.
W. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, pp. 8, 118, another cast illustrated.
H. Read, Henry Moore, A Study of his Life and Work, London, 1965, p. 219, pl. 203, another cast illustrated.
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 289, plaster cast illustrated.
R. Melville, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, London, 1970, p. 359, no. 526, plaster cast illustrated.
A. Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture: 1955-64, Vol. 3, London, 1986, p. 31, no. 418, pls. 51d and 52, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Mother and Child: the Art of Henry Moore, Pennsylvania, Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1987, pp. 62, 138, 142, no. 40.
S. Compton, exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore, London, Royal Academy, 1988, pp. 105, 240, no. 140, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore: The Human Dimension, St. Petersburg, British Council, Benois Museum, 1991, p. 103, no. 78, another cast illustrated.

Pennsylvania, Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Mother and Child: the Art of Henry Moore, December 1987 - January 1988, no. 40, another cast exhibited.
London, Royal Academy, Henry Moore, September - December 1988, no. 140, another cast exhibited.
St. Petersburg, British Council, Benois Museum, Henry Moore: The Human Dimension, June - August 1991, no. 78, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Moscow, Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, September - October 1991.
Special notice
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William Porter
William Porter

Lot Essay

In May 1955 Moore was approached to create a monumental sculpture for the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation. The commission was to sit in the piazza outside the newly completed modernist headquarters in Paris, designed by Marcel Breuer. However, it was two years before the artist could decide on a design for the sculpture and the final work was completed. In September 1956 Moore wrote, ‘to make a sculpture which has (if only in my mind) a real connection with the purpose of UNESCO and also proper scale, relationship or contrast, and be a satisfactory piece of sculpture to me, is not an easy affair’ (H. Moore, letter to A. Manuelides, 25 September 1956, M. Garlake, ‘Moore’s Eclecticism: Difference, Aesthetic Identity and Community in the Architectural Commissions 1938–58’, J. Beckett and F. Russell (eds.), Henry Moore: Critical Essays, Aldershot, 2003, p. 188). Mother and Child Against Open Wall, an early maquette is representative of Moore’s grappling with an attempt to convey a specific aspect of UNESCO’s intentions in this prestigious commission. This seated mother figure, turned slightly to face and beckon a small standing child is one of the few initial maquettes to be cast in bronze. In a published sketchbook which includes pages of notes and ideas for UNESCO … Moore wrote ‘Mother figure bending towards a child figure representing growing humanity’ (S. Compton, exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore, Royal Academy of Art, London). This choice of subject matter reflects Moore’s interest in representing the role of UNESCO as an education force in the world.

The archetypal Mother and Child theme had been a pre-occupation of Moore’s since the 1930s and but developed new direction in the 1940s with the war-time Shelter drawings and with the birth of Moore’s own daughter Mary in 1946. With these drawings and the commission of a Madonna and Child carving for St Matthews in 1943-44, Moore’s mothers became full-length, draped figures inspired perhaps by Moore’s enduring appreciation for classical Greek statues in the British Museum. In Mother and Child Against Open Wall the influence of these drawings is particularly evident, with the high-backed bench, reminiscent of the enclosed London Underground air-raid shelters. The mother’s draped form and seated position is directly comparable to 1940s works such as Mothers and Children and Reclining Figures (1944, sold in these Rooms, on 23 November 2016 for £209,000). Moore has replaced the cradled figure on the bottom left of the work with the standing child. Additionally the effect of Moore’s use of hatching and horizontal line in the drawing, created with inks and wax crayon is mirrored in the textural nature of the bronze in Mother and Child Against Open Wall. The influence of Moore’s war-time work is especially significant when considering UNESCO’s primary purpose of contributing to the peace and security of Europe, as a direct result of the Second World War.

The high-backed framework of the bench gives the work both an architectural quality and closes the void between the mother and child, emotionally unifying the two figures. Moore has - in awarding the two figures a more mimetic quality – transferred his favoured technique of using negative space within the figure to the wall behind. The two open windows in the back wall have multiple aesthetic purposes. They both open the composition and create space and simultaneously frame the silhouettes of the two figures. Furthermore, when considering this sculpture as a study for a life-size work, these openings would have both utilised the modernist fenestration of Marcel Breuer’s building as a back-drop but also allowed the viewer to admire the work from 360 degrees. As, for monumental sculpture in particular, Moore intended them to be viewed in the round.

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