HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
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HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
8 More
Property of The Jewish Museum, New York, as Bequeathed by the Estate of Mildred Weissman for Sale to Benefit Acquisitions
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)

Mother and Child: Arms

HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
Mother and Child: Arms
signed and numbered 'Moore 6/9' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown and green patina
Height: 25 1/8 in. (54 cm.)
Length: 31 1/2 in. (80.1 cm.)
Conceived in 1976-1980
George and Mildred Weissman, New York (acquired from the artist, 29 May 1981).
Bequest from the above to The Jewish Museum, New York, 2022.
D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture with Comments by the Artist, London, 1981, pp. 280 and 315, nos. 581 and 584 (another cast illustrated twice, p. 280; dated 1976-1979).
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture 1974-1980, London, 1994, vol. 5, p. 30, no. 698 (another cast illustrated, p. 31 and pls. 80-83).
D. Mitchinson, ed., Celebrating Moore: Works from the Collection of The Henry Moore Foundation, London, 1998, pp. 40 and 320-321, no. 247 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 320).

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Conceived in the late 1970s, Henry Moore’s Mother and Child: Arms is an enchanting exploration of the tender relationship between parent and child as they sit together, offering a dynamic vision of one of the artist’s favorite subjects—the loving bond between a mother and her offspring. “The ‘Mother and Child’ idea is one of my two or three obsessions, one of my inexhaustible subjects …,” Moore explained around the same time that he was working on the present sculpture. “[It] is eternal and unending, with so many sculptural possibilities in it—a small form in relation to a big form, the big form protecting the small one, and so on. It is such a rich subject, both humanly and compositionally, that I will always go on using it” (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 213).
While the artist had first explored the subject in his sculptures of the 1920s, the relationship between mother and child had taken on a new significance for Moore following his experiences as a war artist in London during the Blitz. Recording the impact of the conflict on the city’s civilian population, the artist was struck by the acts of intense love and protection he witnessed among people as they sheltered underground from the bombing. The observations he made during this period greatly informed his subsequent sculpture, lending his visions of mothers and children new levels of tenderness and feeling. Similarly, the birth of his own daughter, Mary, in 1946 imbued Moore’s explorations on the theme with a new depth of emotion. “Of course, an artist uses experiences he’s had in life,” he later explained. “Such an experience in my life was the birth of my daughter Mary, which re-invoked in my sculpture my Mother and Child theme. A new experience can bring to the surface something deep in one’s mind” (quoted in J. Hedgecoe, ed., Henry Spencer Moore, London, 1968, p. 173). The subject came to dominate at various points throughout the rest of his career, most notably in the final decade of Moore's life, which saw a rich outpouring of sculptures, drawings and prints devoted to the theme of Mother and Child.
In Mother and Child: Arms, the artist focuses on the protective, nurturing side of the relationship, depicting a mother as she holds on tightly to a young toddler, steadying the child with her hands while it attempts to clamber upright on her knees. Leaning slightly backwards, the woman’s pose appears both relaxed and active, as she reacts to the movements of the child and adjusts her balance to accommodate their shifting weight. Contrasting the slender lines of the child’s small body with the monumental, rounded forms of the mother, Moore emphasizes the woman’s strength and stability, keeping the child safe as they explore. Indeed, this contrast in size was an essential aspect of Moore’s composition: “The idea of the climbing child,” he explained “was a new little phase of the mother and child relationship in which the child is using the mother as a big object that can be played on” (quoted in D. Mitchinson, op. cit., 1998, pp. 247-248). The connection between the two figures is underscored by a rich sense of dynamism, which reveals itself most fully as the viewer moves around the sculpture, each angle offering an unexpected view that suggests either the child or the mother have been caught mid-movement, and that their pose would have shifted and altered in the very next moment.
Mother and Child: Arms was purchased directly from the artist in May 1981 by the New York based collectors, George and Mildred Weissman, who had encountered the work during a visit to Moore’s studio in Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. Writing to Moore shortly after their return to the United States, Mr. Weissman expressed the great joy he and his wife found in the motif: “I cannot describe to you how beautiful and meaningful it is physically and spiritually. The satisfaction it gives us just sitting and looking at it can only be described by an artist like yourself… As we look at it, we see your grandson whom we met last February at your home, or our own children who were once that age” (letter from G. Weissman to Henry Moore, 26 June 1981). The sculpture was bequeathed to The Jewish Museum following Mrs. Weissman’s death to be sold by the Museum to benefit the acquisitions program.

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