Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Property from the Ascher Family Collection
Henry Moore (1898-1986)

Textile Design Sketchbook 1

Henry Moore (1898-1986)
Textile Design Sketchbook 1
watercolor, colored wax crayons, pen and ink and pencil on paper
Each sheet: 8 x 6 3/8 in. (20.3 x 16.2 cm.)
Executed in 1943
Zika Ascher, London (acquired from the artist).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
A. Garrould, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Drawings 1940-49, London, 2001, pp. 174-177, nos. 43.1-43.24 (illustrated).
The Henry Moore Foundation, ed., Henry Moore Textiles, Hertfordshire, 2008, pp. 32-36, 90, 92, 97, 100, 106, 124 and 137 (illustrated in color).
Hertfordshire, The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green; Edinburgh, Dovecot Studios and Chichester, Pallant House, Henry Moore Textiles, April 2008-February 2010.

Lot Essay

The present lot is a sketchbook containing twenty-four sheets.

These works are recorded in the Henry Moore Foundation database under the numbers 2101-2124.

During the Second World War, when materials were scarce and opportunities rare, Moore found it impossible to execute major sculptural projects. When a Luftwaffe bomb damaged his Hampstead studio in 1940, he was compelled to focus his creativity on drawing for its own sake and it was during these stressful wartime years that he executed his most exceptional drawings.

Zika Ascher approached Moore in late 1942 or early 1943 with the novel plan to work with the artist on creating modern textiles that would combine the worlds of fine art and fashion and bring the modernist ideals of the European avant-garde into peoples everyday lives. Moore was intrigued by the social nature of the idea and began to think of motifs outside of those that were purely sculptural and figural for these works.

Starting in 1943, Moore filled four notebooks with his ideas for the textile designs. The present lot, Textile Design Sketchbook 1, also known as No. 1 Design Notebook is the only sketchbook of the four to remain completely intact with twenty-four pages. No. 2 Design Notebook (see lot 192), unknown to The Henry Moore Foundation until revealed by the Ascher Family in 2006, features six of the original drawings and eleven others have since been ascribed to it. David Mitchinson, Head of collections and Exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation, has written that they have identified ninety-seven textile works that have been cross-referenced to twenty-one textiles (op. cit., p. 7).

From 1940-1942, Moore undertook a series of works known as 'Shelter Drawings,' showing Londoners seeking refuge from the Blitz in the depths of the London Underground. The Shelter Drawings are filled with the claustrophobic darkness of the dimly lit tunnels and are some of the artist's most well known drawings. At the time they were created they became a national sensational as they depicted a patriotic stoicism and resolve that emboldened the nation. The restrained palettes of the Shelter Drawings stand in stark contrast to the vibrant colors and playful designs Moore created for his textile designs. The historical timing of these two sets of works is key to understanding this stark contrast in treatment. The shelter works were created during the depths of the Battle of Britain when the outlook of the war was tenuous. In contrast, Moore's works in textiles were created after the successful defense of Britain, when the tide of the European war had turned. The color palette used reflects the rising optimism in Britain and the desire to create works that would enliven a society made dreary by wartime rationing, death, and hardship. Moore aptly described his use of color as "a bit of a holiday."

In the two notebooks and additional drawings included in this catalogue, the varied subject matter depicted gives insight into the overall development of Moore's oeuvre. Subjects for which he is widely known such as the reclining figure and the family group are seen, however other more subtle influences are also depicted. Anita Feldman, Curator at The Henry Moore Foundation writes: "these compositions reveal many illuminating aspects of his work, with links to his interest in non-Western art, organic form and, perhaps surprisingly, industrial materials and vivid colour...Many of the subjects depicted in Moore's textile designs are unusually whimsical, from imaginative sea creatures to twisting caterpillars, insect wings, piano keys and even rows of teepees" (ibid., p. 27).

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