HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
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HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
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PROPERTY OF THE JEWISH MUSEUM, NEW YORK, AS BEQUEATHED BY THE ESTATE OF MILDRED WEISSMAN FOR SALE TO BENEFIT ACQUISITIONS
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)

Three Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 4

Details
HENRY MOORE (1898-1986)
Three Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 4
signed and numbered 'Moore 8/9' (on the back of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
Length: 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm.)
Conceived and cast in 1975
Provenance
George and Mildred Weissman, New York (by 1982).
Bequest from the above to The Jewish Museum, New York, 2022.
Literature
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1974-1980, London, 1983, vol. 5, p. 28, no. 678 (another cast illustrated).

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Lot Essay

Conceived in 1975, Three Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 4 displays Moore's preoccupation with the reclining figure, which was a life-long subject of experimentation and exploration for the artist. The sculpture is the fourth in a series of five works begun in the early 1960s, where Moore split the figure into three distinct pieces creating rounded, organic, autonomous shapes that convey the impression of a head and shoulders, torso, and a pair of legs. Moore’s manipulation of the space between the sections is carefully calculated in order to generate tension and energy that ties them all together. Describing this phenomenon, the sculptor explained, “This space is terribly important and is as much a form as the actual solid, and should be looked upon as a piece of form or a shape just as much as the actual material” (quoted in D. Mitchinson, Henry Moore Sculpture, London, 1981, p. 266). At this smaller scale, the viewer is able to intimately experience what the artist calls the "surprise" of a sculpture cut into sections. Moore commented that "If it is a single figure, you can guess what it's going to be like. If it is two [or three in this case] pieces, there's a bigger surprise, you have more unexpected views; therefore the special advantage of sculpture over painting—of having the possibility of many different views—is more fully exploited" (quoted in A.G. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore, Writings and Conversations, Aldershot, 2002, p. 288).
The multi-piece works also reflect the lingering Surrealist influence on Moore's oeuvre since the 1930s. Three Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 4, gives entirely new meaning to the age-old theme of the reclining figure: Moore’s abstracted anatomical shapes morph into suggestions of pits, rock formations, vales, and rolling hills…. “It’s a question of metamorphosis. We must relate the human figure to animals, to clouds, to the landscape—bring them all together. By using them like metaphors in poetry, you give new meaning to things” (A.G. Wilkinson, ed., op. cit., pp. 221-222). Surrealism’s influence is also apparent in the organic and sometimes seemingly arbitrary assemblage of the pieces in his fragmented works, which look to have been shaped by nature’s flowing energy. But it is the body itself that truly inspired Moore: "From our bodies we understand nature; we can't get away from it... For me everything in the world of form is understood through our own bodies. From our mother's breast, from our bones, from bumping into things, we learn what is rough and what is smooth... In the human figure one can express more completely one's feelings about the world than in any other way” (ibid., pp. 221-222).
Three Piece Reclining Figure: Maquette No. 4 was purchased by the New York based collectors, George and Mildred Weissman. 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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