Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
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Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)

Reclining Figure

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Reclining Figure
bronze with a brown patina
8 ¼ in. (21 cm.) long, excluding wooden base
Conceived in 1938 and cast in an edition of 7, plus 1 artist's cast.
with Leicester Galleries, London.
with Thomas Gibson Fine Art, London.
I.A. and Cecile Mann Victor, 1976.
Private collection, London, by whom acquired in November 2000.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore, New York, Buchholz Gallery, Curt Valentin, 1951, p. 6, no. 10, another cast illustrated.
D. Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, Sculpture 1921-48, Vol. I, London, 1957, p. 11, no. 185.
W. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, no. 25, another cast illustrated.
I. Jianou, Henry Moore, Paris, 1968, no. 172.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore, Florence, Forte Belvedere, 1972, n.p., no. 35, another cast illustrated, as 'Maquette for Reclining Figure'.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore: The Reclining Figure, Ohio, Columbus, Columbus Museum of Art, 1984, p. 37, no. 10, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, A Tribute to Henry Moore 1898-1986, London, Marlborough Fine Art, 1987, pp. 15, 46, no. 23, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore, London, Royal Academy, 1988, p. 10, no. 35, another cast illustrated, as 'Maquette for Reclining Figure'.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore: Sketch Models and Working Models, London, South Bank Centre, 1990, n.p., no. 3, fig. 3, another cast illustrated.
New York, Buchholz Gallery, Curt Valentin, Henry Moore, March 1951, no. 10, another cast exhibited.
Florence, Forte Belvedere, Henry Moore, May - September 1972, no. 35, another cast exhibited, as 'Maquette for Reclining Figure'.
Ohio, Columbus, Columbus Museum of Art, Henry Moore: The Reclining Figure, October - December 1984, no. 10, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Austin, University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, January - February 1985; Salt Lake City, Utah Museum of Art, March - May 1985; Portland, Portland Art Museum, June - July 1985; San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, August - October 1985.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, A Tribute to Henry Moore 1898-1986, May - June 1987, no. 23, another cast exhibited.
London, Royal Academy, Henry Moore, September - December 1988, no. 35, another cast exhibited, as 'Maquette for Reclining Figure'.
Coventry, Coventry Mead Gallery, University of Warwick Arts Centre, Henry Moore: Sketch Models and Working Models, May - June 1990, no. 3, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Huddersfield, Huddersfield Art Gallery, June - August 1990; Wrexham, Wrexham Library Arts Centre, August - October 1990; Bristol, City Museum & Art Gallery, October - November 1990; Eastbourne, Towner Art Gallery, December 1990 - January 1991; Exeter, Exeter Royal Albert Memorial Museum, January - March 1991; and Stirling, Stirling Smith Art Gallery, March - April 1991.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

‘From the very beginning the reclining figure has been my main theme. The first one I made was around 1924, and probably more than half of my sculptures since then have been reclining figures’ (H. Moore, quoted in J. Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London, 1968, p. 151).

Conceived in 1938, before the outbreak of the Second World War, Reclining Figure offers a prime example of a pervasive and iconic motif that resonates throughout Henry Moore’s extensive artistic oeuvre. Initially inspired by visits to the British Museum, France and Italy, Moore’s representations of the reclining human form afforded him the means of limitless experimentation. In particular, his exposure to and admiration of Mesoamerican sculpture at the Louvre museum ignited a career-long obsession that embraced an essential and abstracted articulation of the reclining female body. The present work was created as a maquette for one of Moore’s largest Elmwood sculptures that now resides in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts. Reclining Figure exemplifies Moore’s unique ability to reinvent a universal image through the subversion of conventional modes of form and representation.

For Henry Moore, the 1930s presented a time of increased personal and creative freedom. Moore and his wife had acquired a cottage in Kent in 1934. He now had access to an expansive outdoor space in which to work and the financial flexibility to experiment with new materials, such as bronze. It was during this period that Moore began to depart from the more block-like rigidity of earlier sculptures, introducing globular shapes and fluid meandering lines to his reclining forms. Moore also became increasingly more concerned that his sculptures were understood and appreciated in the round – from multiple perspectives. In Reclining Figure, the bronze is perforated by a series of holes that demonstrate an intentional interplay between the work and its environment. Consequently, the eye is not only drawn to look around the sculpture, but through it as well. Moore insisted ‘Complete three dimensional form – form in the round – is form in space, the far side of a form should be known when seeing the front of it, its volume should be comprehended, which is the space that the form displaces in the air’ (H. Moore, 'Some Notes of Space and Form in Sculpture', 1970, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity).

The large Elmwood Reclining Figure was supposedly proposed by Russian born architect, Berthold Lubetkin, after seeing the present maquette and intended for display in the alcove of a London penthouse. Although Moore did not accept the commission, the idea that the sculpture was once proposed for an interior setting could account for the maquette’s exceptional freedom of form. In the present work, Moore integrates certain features of the natural world into an indoor site by opening up the reclining human figure, creating an intimacy and a fluidity that circumvent the closed off nature of an interior location. The use of flowing contours and undulating lines is reminiscent of rolling hills and valleys. Each hole plays a crucial role in the sculpture’s total composition, not only by offsetting the impermeability of the bronze material, but by capturing pieces of the surrounding space and incorporating them into the work. Moore outlined ‘The liking for holes came about from wanting to make space and three-dimensional form. For me the hole is not just a round hole. It is the penetration through from the front of the block to the back. This was for me a revelation, a great mental effort’ (H. Moore, quoted in D. Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture with comments by the artist, London, 1981, p. 65). The use of holes in present work evokes Moore’s unparalleled capacity to break down the boundaries between a sculpture and its setting. The multiple openings within Reclining Figure create endless possibilities for viewpoints and vistas and, in turn, conceive infinite ways to view the work.

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