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Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT NORTH AMERICAN COLLECTION
Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)

Mothers and Children and Reclining Figures

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986)
Mothers and Children and Reclining Figures
signed and dated 'Moore/44' (lower right)
gouache, watercolour, wax crayon, coloured chalks, pencil and ink
14 ¼ x 10 ¼ in. (36.5 x 26 cm.)
Hugh Gibb, his sale; Sotheby's, London, 16 December 1964, lot 175.
with Wildenstein, New York.
with Brook Street Gallery, London, where purchased by the family of the present owner, 1967.
A. Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Drawings: 1940-49, Vol. 3, Much Hadham, 2001, p. 231, no. AG 44.84, HMF 2269, illustrated.
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Lot Essay

In Mothers and Children and Reclining Figures, Henry Moore reveals the multifaceted and fluid nature of his train of thought, as he explores a multitude of different variations on two of his favourite and most frequently recurring themes. Across this single sheet of paper, a series of female figures are shown in various different poses, from nurturing mothers cradling their children, to groups of seated, interlocking figures, and abstracted, biomorphic, reclining women. For Moore, drawing offered a creative outlet that was much more immediate and spontaneous than his sculptural projects, one which allowed him to explore and develop his ideas before committing them to three-dimensional form. He sketched ideas quickly and profusely, often many to a page, elaborating them and embellishing them with increasing detail from sketch to sketch. He described drawing as ‘done mainly as a help towards making sculpture, tapping oneself for the initial idea,’ which allowed him to sort through the images that flooded his imagination and develop them into concrete, translatable forms (Moore, quoted in A. Causey, The Drawings of Henry Moore, Farnham & Burlington, 2010, p. 9). During the Second World War, drawing took on a new importance in Moore’s output, as the materials for sculpture became scarce and three-dimensional projects increasingly difficult to realise. Thus, drawing became Moore’s primary creative outlet during the conflict, a change in status that caused his works on paper to develop a new complexity and substance.

Created during this incredibly inventive period for the artist, this work encapsulates the richness of Moore’s signature drawing technique at this time, as each vignette is carefully developed using a layered combination of different media. Sweeping brushstrokes of thin watercolour wash are applied across the page, their distinctive inky curves reacting against the water-resistant surface of wax crayon outlines, which Moore had first used on the paper to demarcate the basic forms of the figures. These are then overlaid by delicate lines and striations of pen and black ink, intended to pick out certain features and help define the mass of each character. This technique lends the drawing a richly textured surface, almost sculptural in its appearance, while the inclusion of drapery and gentle ripples of fabric demonstrates Moore’s debt to classical sculpture and Renaissance models. The individuality of each subject is emphasised through the application of colourful washes to different areas of the page, with varying tones of orange, yellow and green creating a subtle internal structure which allows us to read them as a series of autonomous subjects rather than a single, unified composition.

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