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)

Reclining Mother and Child I

HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Moore, H.
Reclining Mother and Child I
signed and numbered 'Moore 9 /9' (on the base)
bronze with a green patina
8 in. (20.3 cm.) long, including base
Conceived in 1979 and cast in an edition of 9, plus an artist's cast.
Acquired directly from the artist by Dr Jeffrey Sherwin, circa 1979, and by descent to the present owners.
D. Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Sculpture, London, 1981, p. 298, no. 622, another cast illustrated.
A. Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore: Complete Sculpture 1974-80, Vol. 5, London, 1983, n.p., no. 778, pl. 182, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Moore in China, Beijing, China Art Gallery, 2000, p. 83, no. 105, another cast illustrated.
The Yorkshire Post, 'Dr Jeffrey Sherwin Obituary', 17 November 2018, illustrated.
Beijing, China Art Gallery, Moore in China, October - November 2000, no. 105, another cast exhibited: this exhibition travelled to Guangzhou, Guangdong Museum of Art, December - February 2001; and Shanghai, Shanghai Art Museum, March - April 2001.

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Pippa Jacomb
Pippa Jacomb Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

The present lot is being sold by the Sherwin family. Dr Jeffrey Sherwin (1936-2018), a GP and councillor in Leeds, was a champion of the visual arts. He built a friendship with Moore, visiting his studio on a regular basis.

Admirers of Moore’s work are indebted to Dr Sherwin for his instrumental role, as a city councillor, in the creation of the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, a dedicated sculpture gallery at the old Leeds City Art Gallery. In 1980, the year after Moore made Reclining Mother and Child I and the year after it was acquired by Dr Sherwin, Moore himself laid the foundation stone of the Henry Moore Institute.

In 1986, Leeds City Art Gallery celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition, and this first encounter with British Surrealism was transformative for Dr Sherwin. The exhibition inspired a lifetime of collecting Surrealist works for he and his wife Ruth, inspiring his 2014 book, British Surrealism Opened Up. As well as the Dr Jeffrey Sherwin Collection sale at Christie's, London, in January 2020, many works from the collection have formed The Sherwin Family Collection of British Surrealism, which has found its home at The Hepworth Wakefield.

The present work, the first in a series of similar subjects and a late return to a theme recurrent throughout Moore’s oeuvre, depicts a mother and baby at rest. The pose is characteristic of the artist’s recumbent forms: leant on one arm, the woman is casual but secure upon the surface on which she lies. Her bent knees are relaxed and tilted inwards towards her child, and she appears to be looking over her shoulder at someone who has just entered the scene. Despite her momentary distraction, both arms, with the air of a subconscious reflex, form a protective scaffold about the child who clambers upon her stomach.

The even slope of the mother's shoulders and her overall impression of stillness suggest she is not inclined to rise. While the familiarity of the scene, the woman’s neutral expression, and the figures' body language suggest that the presence of the third party is not unwelcome, the sense of a moment interrupted is part of this work’s prevailing magnetism. The viewer is drawn into the sculpture’s triangulated address and made a voyeur, not just by their spectatorship, but through an automatic identification with the intruder. For Gail Gelburd, Moore’s relationship to the sculpted form adds a final layer of complexity to this dynamic, because it is to the mother he relates as artist. ‘The artist identifies himself with the thing created, becoming the mother or the life giver of the child. The miracle of the woman able to create life from her own body parallels the genius of the artist who gives birth to a form within a once lifeless stone' (Mother and Child: The Art of Henry Moore, New York, 1987, p. 39). As such, the viewer is also gifted a sudden insight into the moment of creation – a tender but estranging glimpse into a late iteration of the subject.

Throughout Moore's work, the motif of the mother and child changes several times over: their relationship can be playful or sometimes formal, and sometimes even antagonistic, as with some of the post-war depictions of the subject. At times the duo are merely suggested by abstract forms; and at times a more figurative approach is taken, as in the Madonna and Child at St Matthew's Church, Northampton. Whatever form the mother and child take, Moore maintains an essential reverence for his subject and imbues it with meaning, as Will Grohmann writes, ‘These reclining women are not the reclining women of a Maillol or a Matisse, they are women in repose but also something more profound ... woman as the concept of fruitfulness, the Mother Earth’ (The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, p. 43).

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