HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
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HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
5 More
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE EYE OF A SCULPTOR: WORKS FROM THE DAVID AND LAURA FINN COLLECTION
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)

Working Model for Thin Reclining Figure

HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
Working Model for Thin Reclining Figure
signed and numbered 'Moore 8 / 9' (on the top of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
Length: 25 1/4 in. (64.1 cm.)
Conceived in 1978; cast in 1978 in an edition of nine plus one
Raymond Spencer Company Ltd., Much Hadham.
Acquired from the above on 26 October 1979 by the late owners, and thence by descent.
E. Steingräber, Henry Moore, Maquetten, Munich, 1978, no. 37, p. 32 (the plaster illustrated p. 33; titled 'Thin Reclining Figure').
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture, London, 1981, no. 620, p. 297 (another cast illustrated; titled 'Thin Reclining Figure').
Exh. cat., Henry Moore: Sculptures, Drawings, Graphics 1921-1981, Palacio de Velázquez, Madrid, 1981.
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, vol. V, Sculpture 1974-80, London, 1983, no. 733, p. 36 (another cast illustrated p. 37; another cast illustrated again pls. 136-137).
Exh. cat., Henry Moore in the Light of Greece, Museum of Contemporary Art, Andros, 2000, no. 43, n.p. (the plaster illustrated).
Exh. cat., Henry Moore: L'atelier, Musée Rodin, Paris, 2010.
Exh. cat., Henry Moore: Plasters, Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, 2011.
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. 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. Christie’s has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie’s has guaranteed to the seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee.

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Lot Essay

Filled with a rich internal energy that runs right through the body, Working Model for Thin Reclining Figure is a powerful example of Henry Moore’s ability to convey the essential essence of the human figure with the most minimum of details. Using a collection of alternately sharp-edged and softly rounded forms, the artist explores the theme of the recumbent figure through contrasting passages of precisely delineated shapes and abstract, amorphous form, capturing the subtle cues within the body that indicate it is about to shift and move. Occupying an important step in Moore’s creative process, this working model is related to the marble sculpture Thin Reclining Figure, now in the collections of the Henry Moore Foundation.

Moore’s fascination with reclining forms had initially stemmed from his desire to work in stone during the early stages of his career, where standing figures posed a technical challenge, containing an inherent structural weakness as their weight was focused entirely on their feet or ankles. ‘But with either a seated or reclining figure one doesn’t have this worry,’ Moore explained. ‘And between them there are enough variations to occupy any sculptor for a lifetime…’ (quoted in D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture, with Comments by the Artist, London, 1981, p. 86). His sculptures of reclining figures took on a new dimension following the Second World War, irrevocably altered by Moore’s powerful experience of making his Shelter Drawings. These richly detailed works on paper depicted intimate views of life in the unofficial shelters of London during the first few months of the Blitz, as people desperately sought shelter in the capital’s underground transport system to escape the aerial bombing that was reducing vast portions of the city to rubble.

Having discovered this extraordinary environment one night on his way home from dinner, Moore returned to the Underground shelters two or three times a week at the height of the Blitz, quietly observing people as they waited for the night’s bombardment to end. Here, people lay side by side, packed into the tunnels of the Underground. While some managed to sleep fitfully, others shifted nervously as the din of the bombing rained overhead, their bodies tense with worry. Moore witnessed first-hand the full spectrum of human emotion during these long nights, from fear to joy, humour to despair and grief, and would later credit these experiences with imbuing his work with a sense of profound humanity: ‘Without the war, which directed one to life itself, I think I would have been a far less sensitive and responsible person... The War brought out and encouraged the humanist side in one’s work’ (quoted in R. Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, London, 1987, p. 176).

In Working Model for Thin Reclining Figure, Moore imbues the sculpture with a sense of animation and movement – propped up on one elbow, the figure lifts their body up, as if investigating something that has caught their attention, creating a space between the torso and the floor. The sense of movement is enhanced by the projection of the top leg, which simultaneously anchors the upper body, providing a sense of stability, while also suggesting that they are about to twist and turn as they change position. Describing this feature, Moore reveals that he found in such details an intrinsic connection to the landscape: ‘in my reclining figures, I have often made a sort of looming leg – the top leg in the sculpture projecting over the lower leg, which gives a sense of thrust and power – as a large branch of a tree might move outwards from the main trunk – or as a seaside cliff might overhang from below, if you are on the beach’ (quoted in M. Chamot, D. Farr and M. Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogues: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London, 1964, vol. 2, p. 28).

Occupying the position between sketch maquette and fully realised sculpture, working models like the present sculpture acted as an important intermediate step in Moore’s creative process, allowing the artist to refine an idea before it was realised at full scale. Speaking in 1978, the same year as the present work was created, Moore detailed this process, explaining: ‘Sometimes I make ten or twenty maquettes for every one that I use in a large scale – the others may get rejected. If a maquette keeps its interest enough for me to want to realise it in a full-size final work, then I might make a working model in an intermediate size, in which changes will be made before going to the real, full-sized sculpture. Changes get made at all these stages’ (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot, 2002, p. 217). In the case of the present work, this process allowed Moore to assess and explore the volumes, posture and expressiveness of the figure before he set his tools to the large block of white marble intended for the final sculpture, testing the visual and structural potential of his idea in three dimensions.

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