Home page

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE FAMILY COLLECTION
Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)

Stringed Object

Details
Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Stringed Object
bronze with a brown patina with strings
2 ¾ in. (7 cm.) wide
Conceived in 1938 and cast in 1956 in an edition of 9, plus 1 artist's cast.
Provenance
Acquired directly from Henry Moore by Sir Kenneth Clark, K.C.B.
with Fischer Fine Art, London.
Acquired by a Family Trust in 1989.
Their sale; Christie's, London, 30 April 1999, lot 145.
Acquired by the present owner in 2002.
Literature
D. Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture with comments by the artist, London, 1981, p. 79, no. 133, another cast illustrated.
D. Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture 1921-48, Vol. 1, London, 1988, pp. 12, 14, no. 187, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore, London, Fischer Fine Art, 1988, n.p., no. 2.
J. Hedgecoe, A Monumental Vision: The Sculpture of Henry Moore, London, 1998, pp. 206-207, no. 194, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Henry Moore and the Classic Canon of Modern Sculpture, Moscow, Kremlin Museums, 2012, p. 146, no. 18, another cast illustrated,
Exhibited
London, Fischer Fine Art, Henry Moore, November 1988 - January 1989, no. 2.
Moscow, Kremlin Museums, Henry Moore and the Classic Canon of Modern Sculpture, February - May 2012, no. 18, another cast exhibited.
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.

Brought to you by

William Porter
William Porter

Lot Essay


‘Undoubtedly the source of my stringed figures was the Science Museum. Whilst a student at the R.C.A. I became involved in machine art, which in those days had its place in modern art. Although I was interested in the work of Léger, and the Futurists, who exploited mechanical forms, I was never directly influenced by machinery as such. Its interest for me lies in its capacity for movement, which, after all, is its function’ (H. Moore, quoted in J. Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Spencer Moore, New York, 1968, p. 105).

Moore first executed a sculpture incorporating string in 1937 and would continue to utilise the material in his sculptures for the next two years. While it has been suggested that the work of Naum Gabo, who had arrived in Hampstead in 1935, was a major influence on the artist at the time, Moore’s statement to Hedgecoe leaves no doubt as to the impetus of his inspiration. He explained: ‘I was fascinated by the mathematical models I saw there, which had been made to illustrate the difference of the form that is half-way between a square and a circle. One model had a square stone end with twenty holes along each side making eighty holes in all. Through these holes strings were threaded and led to a circle with the same number of holes at the other end. A plane interposed through the middle shows the form that is halfway between a square and a circle. One end could also be twisted to produce forms that would be terribly difficult to draw on a flat surface. It wasn’t the scientific study of these models but the ability to look through the strings as with a bird cage and to see one form within another which excited me’ (H. Moore, quoted in ibid.). It was these mathematical configurations that prompted the artist to experiment with how string can show lines in space, acting as a barrier, while nevertheless allowing the eye to see one form through another.

Conceived in 1938, Stringed Object, is one of Moore’s earliest sculptures incorporating string. Its intimate scale is reminiscent of a smooth stone and other found objects or objet trouvé that Moore impulsively collected throughout his career. Such items lined the shelves and surfaces of his studio and were treated as works of art in their own right. Pieces of bone, flints and smooth stones provided inspiration for his own works throughout his lifetime. The contrast of the smooth polished finish and the darker interior add a certain tactility to the piece and its delicate natural form and surface, like Japanese netsuke, invite one to hold it and turn it in their palm.

This cast was acquired directly from Moore by Sir Kenneth Clark, the renowned art historian, museum director, and broadcaster. Moore and Clark were close friends and wrote frequently to each other throughout their lives. Clark was a keen patron and collector of Moore’s works and introduced many other collectors to him. ‘Whenever I write to you nowadays’, Moore acknowledged in a letter in 1939, ‘it seems to be to thank you for something you’ve done for me’ (Letter to Sir Kenneth Clark, 26 March 1939, Tate Archive).

Clark is perhaps best remembered as the presenter of the iconic series Civiliastion, a thirteen-part television show on the history of Western art, architecture and philosophy since the Middle Ages. Although works by Moore and other Modern British artist made up a significant part of Clark’s collection he rarely discussed them in the show. Nonetheless in the closing sequence of the final episode, Clark sits next to a Henry Moore bronze his hands caressing the curved form of the figure’s head. It is easy to imagine Stringed Object, a tactile and cherished piece, sitting in pride of place on his desk and being regularly held and considered by Clark as he embarked on one of his many renowned discourses on the history of art.

Other casts from this edition are housed in the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice and The Henry Moore Foundation, Hertfordshire.

More from Modern British Art Evening Sale

View All
View All