This work is recorded in archive of The Henry Moore Foundation under number HMF 2262.
The depiction of six reclining biomorphic sculptural forms in Reclining Figures: Ideas for Stone Sculpture illustrates Henry Moore's statement that his drawings were executed 'as a means of generating ideas for sculpture, tapping oneself for the initial idea; and as a way of sorting out ideas and developing them' (H. Moore, 'The Sculptor Speaks', The Listener, 18 August 1937 quoted in D. Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1948, 4 vols, London, 1957, vol. I, p. xxxv). A consummate draughtsman, Moore's drawings are also important pictorial works in their own right, exemplifying his belief that a sculptor's drawings should, through the suggestion of background and the evocation of atmosphere, be more than mere diagrammatic studies.
In the present drawing, Moore's six ideas for sculpture are isolated in a subterranean setting, recalling the 'mysterious fascination' which 'caves in hillsides and cliffs' held for him (Moore, quoted in ibid., p. xxxiv). Moore's interest in underground landscapes previously found expression in both his seminal 'Shelter Drawings' of 1941, which movingly depict figures taking refuge in the London Underground during the war, and in his 'Coal-Mine Drawings' of the same year. In Reclining Figures: Ideas for Stone Sculpture, the figures are presented as an elemental part of their surrounding environment which, almost womb-like - or perhaps catacomb-like - protects and envelops them. This integration suggests an analogy between his sculpture and organic matter and reflects the inspiration he derived from natural objects such as rocks, bones, trees and plants.
Moore's sophisticated use of colour in Reclining Figures: Ideas for Stone Sculpture, particularly the mossy greens and earthy yellows, also points to an aesthetic based on nature. Indeed, the very year this drawing was executed, one commentator noted Moore's 'appetite for the colours of nature, the lichen on the grey rock, the coloured textured of weather-worn stone' (G. Grigson, Henry Moore, London, 1944, pp. 15-16). The natural is further alluded to in the present drawing through Moore's use of a wide variety of media which gives the drawing a rich surface texture. The application of a wash over wax crayons gives a particularly organic and tactile quality to the drawing.
As Moore once conceded, the reclining female figure was an 'absolute obsession' for him (Moore, quoted in C. Lichtenstern, Henry Moore. Work -Theory - Impact, London, 2008, p. 95). He believed that of the 'three fundamental poses of the human of the human figure' - standing, seated and reclining - it was the latter which offered him the most compositional and spatial freedoms (Moore, quoted in A. Wikinson, Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot, 2002, p. 218). This 'obsession' with the reclining figure is superbly illustrated in the twisting and contorted sculptural forms so adroitly explored in Reclining Figures: Ideas for Stone Sculpture.