This drawing is recorded in the Henry Moore Foundation Archives under no. 1507a.
Against the backdrop of World War, at a time when Britain's fortunes seemed at their lowest ebb, Moore made significant advances in the technique and content of his art. In a number of drawings from this year, wax crayon was used for the first time, in combination with pen and ink, chalk, and watercolor. While exploring this new medium, Moore also inadvertently found a new subject, which both fascinated and deeply moved him. During a visit to London several days after the Blitz began on 7 September 1940, Moore and his wife were forced to take cover in the Underground station at Belsize Park. The artist responded to this experience, just days after, with what he considered to be his first shelter drawing, Women and Children in the Tube (1940; collection of the Imperial War Museum, London). Following this initial encounter with shelter life, Moore felt compelled to record what he saw and he returned to various stations to continue his observations. He began his 'First Shelter Sketchbook' with drawings done from memory based on these visits. In these drawings, Moore emphasizes the anxious and helpless plight of the civilian population in wartime, as they spend long hours waiting in the Underground, while invisible raiders devastated the city above them. The present work presages the mood and style of the shelter drawings, although it was likely drawn earlier in the year.
The first owner of the drawing, Herbert Read, states, "For the achievement of this purpose there was no question of abandoning his established style - there is no sense of discontinuity between shelter drawings and their predecessors, or their successors. They are an integral part of his artistic evolution. Moore has surrendered nothing in his endeavor to express human tragedy; he has, on the other hand, proved the inherent humanism of his earlier work. But since these are no longer drawings of sculpture - though they remain the drawings of a sculptor -- considerations of the materials into which the sketches for sculpture would normally be translated, become irrelevant, and the drawing can exist in its own rights, more cursive, more colourful, and more dramatic. The figures in such drawings are no longer isolated ideas; they are elements in an integral composition." (H. Read, Henry Moore : Sculpture and Drawings, New York, 1949, p. XXX).