Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
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Henry Moore (1898-1986)
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Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Maquette for Seated Figure Against Curved Wall

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Maquette for Seated Figure Against Curved Wall
bronze with brown patina
Height: 6 1⁄2 in. (16.5 cm.)
Length: 10 5⁄8 in. (27 cm.)
Conceived in 1955; this bronze version cast in 1956-1957
George and Mary Bloch, Hong Kong.
Waddington Galleries, London (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, June 1989.
W. Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, p. 230, no. 175 (larger version illustrated).
I. Jianou, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 81, no. 401.
R. Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1969, London, 1970, nos. 523 and 528 (another cast illustrated).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture, 1955-1964, London, 1986, vol. 3, p. 32, no. 421 (another cast illustrated, p. 33; plaster version illustrated, pl. 50a).
J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: A Monumental Vision, Cologne, 2005, p. 222, no. 388 (another cast illustrated).
London, Waddington Galleries, Twentieth-Century Works, April-May 1989, no. 37 (illustrated in color, p. 79).

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Lot Essay

At once miniature and monumental, the present work demonstrates Moore’s longstanding interests in the seated figure and in architectural settings. These ideas are combined in Maquette for Seated Figure Against Curved Wall, where the fixed wall provides a setting for Moore’s figure and concretes an eternal measure of scale. As Moore described, “A small sculpture only three or four inches big can have about it a monumental scale, so that if you photographed it against a blank wall in which you had nothing to refer it … a small thing only a few inches big might seem, if it has a monumental scale, to be any size” (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 207). Moore held a special interest in monumental style, believing it to be an essential quality to any artist’s work. Although cast in bronze, the present work indicates compositional sympathies to the sparse still lifes of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi. The inclusion of the metal wall draws a stark contrast between the planes of the foreground object and background. Moore described this monumentality: “It doesn’t mean doing colossal, large size works—someone like Morandi in his small still life paintings has such a sense—the bottles he paints can look like great towers in a landscape. This is just the way some artists alter things” (quoted in ibid., p. 210).
Maquette for Seated Figure Against Curved Wall was conceived as Moore planned his famed UNESCO Reclining Figure of 1957-1958 (Bowness, vol. 3, no. 416), which Moore initially envisioned as a seated family group before curved and open walls. Bearing little resemblance to the finished sculpture, we might also imagine the present work as an effort for Moore to reconcile his love of sculpture and distaste for architecture as he embarked on the project, and an attempt to understand how his figure might function within an architectural setting. Later in life, he said “When I am asked by an architect to find or make a sculpture to go with his building I am never very excited about it. I know there will be problems” (quoted in ibid., p. 243). However, Moore particularly liked this design, choosing to produce it in a larger scale edition (Bowness, vol. 3, no. 422). The seated figure in the present work also appears to be an early study for Draped Seated Woman, which poses similarly, and Moore conceived and cast in the following years (Bowness, vol. 3, no. 428). Although she is separated from her bonded architectural setting at this scale, versions of this sculpture have be installed throughout the world—both in front of famous facades, and in landscape settings.

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