Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Mother and Child No. 3: Child on Knee

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Mother and Child No. 3: Child on Knee
bronze with brown patina on a wooden base
Height (with base): 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm.)
Height (without base): 7½ in. (19.1 cm.)
Conceived in 1956; this bronze version cast by the late 1950s
Marlborough Gallery, Inc., New York.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in the late 1950s.
A. Bowness, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture 1955-64, London, 1965, vol. III, p. 23, no. 408 (with incorrect illustration).
R. Melville, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, London, 1970, p. 514, no. 510 (another cast illustrated).
Sale room notice
The Henry Moore Foundation has confirmed the authenticity of this work. Please note that it was case in 1956. It is recorded in the Henry Moore Foundation archives as LH408.

Lot Essay

The sculpture of Henry Moore, often characterized by its abstract form and monumental scale, is nevertheless dominated by a figurative impulse. Moore has identified this tendency as a product of his schooling, "I spent two years at Leeds School of Art and four years at the Royal College of Art doing three or four days a week of modeling of drawing from life, trying to understand the figure. Afterwards I had seven years teaching life drawing and modeling at the Royal College and another seven years teaching it at Chelsea art school.... So altogether I had twenty years of continually concentrated observation and attempt at understanding the human figure" (J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 38).

The mother and child theme is the iconic manifestation of this more literal and representational current in Moore's work. Beginning in 1922 with his "earliest surviving independent carving," Moore "had a long and productive career in which the mother and child figured prominently, particularly during the first and last periods in his career" (G. Gelburd, intro., Mother and Child: The Art of Henry Moore, exh. cat., Hofstra University Museum, Hempstead, New York, 1987, p. 27). Moore's sculpture on the theme in the 1950s stems from two events of the previous decade, a commission he received from St. Mathew's Church in Northampton, England for a mother and child in 1943, and the birth of his own daughter Mary in 1946.

Mother and Child No. 3: Child on Knee follows a period when Moore produced mainly three- and four-figure family groups of a similarly small scale. These domestic scenes achieve a delicacy and intimacy uncommon to the Sculptor's larger, more abstracted works. Mother and Child No. 2: Crossed Feet, however, maintains an imposing presence and projects a symbolic resonance comparable to that of the monumental works. The Mother's upright posture and draped skirt invites comparison to both Moore's King and Queen series of 1952-1953 and the monumental Draped Women (clearly suggestive of Greek goddesses) of 1957-1958. Gail Gelburd has commented on the mother and child works: "Moore continuously found new ways of exploring the idea so that the imagery could take on meaning beyond the aesthetics of its form. The development of his mother and child imagery reveals that Moore's involvement in this theme reaches beyond maternity to an inquiry into birth and creativity. The theme of the mother and child, of the mother giving birth, the child struggling to emerge from the maternal womb, is like the stone giving birth to the form, the form struggling to emerge from the block of stone" (op. cit.).

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