Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Property From the Collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Seated Figure

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Seated Figure
numbered '1' (on the underside)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 17 1/8 in. (43.5 cm.)
Conceived in 1949 and cast before 1966
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, London (acquired from the artist).
Fischer Fine Art, Ltd., London (acquired from the above).
Private collection, New York (acquired from the above, circa 1975).
Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 3 March 1997.
H. Read, intro., Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings Since 1948, London, 1955, vol. II (another cast illustrated, pl. 3).
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 176, no. 2 (another cast illustrated).
I. Jianou, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 76, no. 255.
R. Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1969, London, 1970, p. 354, no. 392 (another cast illustrated, p. 186).
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore: Sculpture, London, 1981, p. 311, no. 197 (another cast illustrated, p. 104).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture, 1949-1954, London, 1986, vol. 2, p. 26, no. 271 (another cast illustrated, p. 27; another cast illustrated again, pl. 12).
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: A Monumental Vision, London, 1998, p. 212, no. 258 (another cast illustrated, p. 213).
Sale room notice
Please note this sculpture was cast before 1966 and is numbered '1' (on the underside).

Lot Essay

Henry Moore conceived this robustly proportioned Seated Figure in 1949 in response to a commission from the British Film Academy. This sculpture represents a development of the seated mother in the Madonna and Child he carved in Hornton stone, completed in 1944 for the Church of St. Matthew in Northampton. The present sculpture is also related to the women in the Family Groups, several of which Moore enlarged from the small terracotta sketch-models and cast in bronze following the end of the Second World War.
The seated woman holds in her left hand, lifted to her bosom, a sprig of laurel leaves. From the bronze cast it received from the original edition of five, the Film Academy—today the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)—had replicas made, which it presented each year (through 1967) to the production unit of award-winning films in five categories: Film from Any Source, British Film, United Nations Award, Short Film, and Specialised Film.
Of the three fundamental poses for the human figure—standing, sitting, and reclining—the seated alternative is the most stable; as if enthroned, the subject becomes resplendently monumental. While Moore more often gravitated toward the reclining figure for the greater freedom that this posture offered him, he nevertheless stated, “In fact if I were told that from now on I should have stone only for seated figures I should not mind it at all” (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 218).
Moore took inspiration from ancient Egyptian seated portrait sculptures—“The whole figure has the stillness of waiting, not of death,” he explained. Also drawn to four Greek seated marble figures in the British Museum from the late archaic period (580-510 BCE), he extolled their “repose and monumentality. Look how poised yet relaxed that simple head is, it’s the very essence of a head on a neck and shoulders” (quoted in D. Finn, Henry Moore at the British Museum, New York, 1981, pp. 35 and 50).
This engagement with the sculptural legacy of the ancient Mediterranean world endowed Moore’s work with a timely and communicable humanist outlook; this dialogue between past and present, myth and modernity proved central to his enduring renown. Moore dedicated his life’s work to exalting the powerful, awe-inspiring, yet compassionate, wise, and protective maternal body, the Great Mother, from whose womb issue the unending generations and prospect of humankind.

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