HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
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HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
4 More
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE FOUNDATION MIREILLE AND JAMES LÉVY
HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)

Family Group

HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Family Group
bronze with a light brown patina
5 7/8 in. (15 cm.) high
Conceived in terracotta in 1944 and cast in bronze in 1956 in an edition of 9.
Milton Sperling, Beverly Hills.
with Marlborough Gallery, London, where purchased by the previous owners in 1972.
Their sale; Christie's, New York, 1 May 1996, lot 235, where purchased by the present owners.
I. Jianou, Henry Moore, Paris, 1968, p. 73, no. 221.
Exhibition catalogue, Small Bronzes and Drawings by Henry Moore, London, Lefevre Gallery, 1972, pp. 26-27, no. 10, another cast illustrated.
D. Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture, London, 1981, pp. 94, 310, no. 170, another cast illustrated.
D. Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture: 1921-48, Vol. 1, London, 1988, pp. 14, 147, no. 233, another cast illustrated.
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: A Monumental Vision, Cologne, 2005, p. 210, no. 236, another cast illustrated.
London, Lefevre Gallery, Small Bronzes and Drawings by Henry Moore, November - December 1972, no. 10, another cast exhibited.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Henry Moore: 60 Years of His Art, May - September 1983, exhibition not numbered, another cast exhibited.
Mountainville, Storm King Art Center, 20th Century Sculpture: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, May - October 1984, exhibition not numbered, 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. Cancellation under the EU Consumer Rights Directive may apply to this lot. Please see here for further information. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Henry Moore’s artistic interest in the theme of the family originated from a pre-Second World War commission by Henry Morris. As head of the village college school programme, Morris had wanted a public sculpture which explored the relationship between learning and family. Though this early commission was not pursued, due to financial backing issues, Moore’s curiosity in the subject matter had been fuelled. The sculptor amassed numerous sketchbooks with composition ideas, an important component of his artistic process at the time. It was not until 1949, fifteen years after Moore began the process, that he installed a new commission of Family Group, his first large scale bronze, at Barclay School, Stevenage. Whilst exploring composition, Moore worked from his sketches to create maquettes, originally made in terracotta, which he then produced in bronze.

The present work was one of these pieces, conceived in terracotta in 1944 and cast in bronze in 1956, as part of an edition of nine. The four-figure composition is used, which Moore favoured over his three figure forms. The stylisation of his figures and the proportioning of the small head and large torso is reminiscent of the sculptures he saw in the British Museum, such as those from Ancient Mesopotamia. Indeed, Moore was particularly interested in sculpture from the Sumerian period, which can be seen in his essay, ‘Mesopotamian Art’, in Listener, 5 June 1935, where he writes, ‘The sculpture of most early periods, even when carved from a block and not from a slab, is not fully realised form, it is relief carving on the surface of the block; but these Sumerian figures have full three-dimensional existence.’ In contrast, the mother and child theme and the interlocking of Moore’s figures is undeniably reminiscent of Italian Renaissance sculptures, reflecting Moore’s own travels in 1924 to Northern Italy, where he studied the work of Michelangelo and Giovanni Pisano. The amalgamation of these styles and the inclusion of a father and son within the composition, indicates a duality, a sense of looking to the past for inspiration but reimagined for the modern era.

Moore’s persistence in pursuing the family composition alludes to his strong personal affiliation and understanding of the theme. As the seventh of eight children, the community structure of the family was integral to the sculptor’s upbringing. Perhaps this can be seen in the intertwining of all the figures in the present work, showing the strong links that underpin family. The forms of the adults and children are carefully balanced so as to create an equality between all of the figures; the children appear as dominant to the composition as the adults, with the young boy even standing on his father’s lap governing the viewer’s attention, despite his smaller size. This is reflected in Moore’s Family Group sketchbook, where he writes, ‘both for grown-ups and child and anyhow in time the children will grow up’. By 1946, Moore was also expanding his own family unit; his daughter, Mary, was born. Named after his mother, who had died two years previously, the use of the same name is another indication of the importance that Moore placed on genealogy.

The family theme is particularly pertinent given the backdrop of the end of the War, with families being reunited or rebuilt and social policies revived. Moore’s depiction of wholesome family values suggests that peace and solace can be found through the family unit. The social commentary of the time particularly resonates with our society today.

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