Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Property from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Sold to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund:Selections from the Charlotte Bergman Collection
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Recumbent Figure

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Recumbent Figure
bronze with brown patina
Length: 5 in. (12.7 cm.)
Conceived in 1938
Louis and Charlotte Bergman, New York and Jerusalem (acquired from the artist).
Bequest from the above to the present owner, 2005.
R. Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1969, London, 1970, p. 100, no. 174 (monumental stone version illustrated, pp. 100-101).
F. Russoli and D. Mitchinson, Henry Moore Sculpture, With Comments by the Artist, London, 1981, p. 74, no. 121 (another cast illustrated in color).
D. Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture, 1921-1948, London, 1988, vol. 1, p. 11, no. 184 (monumental stone version illustrated, pp. 112-113, no. 191).
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum, Focus on the Collection: Henry Moore, July 2004-March 2005, p. 30, no. 8 (illustrated in color, p. 40).

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Lot Essay

The present work is a maquette for the sculpture of the same title and date carved in Green Hornton stone, now in the collection of Tate, London, and considered among Moore's greatest masterpieces (fig. 1). This carving was the first stone piece to utilize negative space and Moore reflected on the subject: “the first hole made through a piece of stone is a revelation. The hole connects one side to the other, making it immediately more three-dimensional. A hole can itself have as much shape meaning as a solid mass. Sculpture in air is possible, where the stone contains only the hole, which is the intended and considered form. The mystery of the hole—the mysterious fascination of caves in the hillsides and cliffs” (quoted in "The Sculptor Speaks," The Listener, 1937, vol. XVIII, no. 449). Commissioned by the architect Serge Chermayeff, Moore was asked to create a sculpture to sit between Chermayeff’s garden and terrace in front of a vista of the Sussex Downs. Moore was compelled to enhance the horizontals of the view, with the figure lying across the terrace, gazing towards the horizon.
This was also the first time Moore used a clay maquette to precede a stone carving, though this would become common practice in his work moving forward. Traditionally Moore had preferred to follow the method of "direct carving," responding to the stone’s natural and physical properties as opposed to following a pre-determined plan. It was likely that the large scale of this commission led Moore down the more practical path of creating a preliminary sculpture that could be scaled up, in order not to waste his efforts or the stone in the process. It was from this original clay maquette (now lost) that the present work was cast.

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