The Maquette for Draped Reclining Figure represents Moore's preliminary conception of the bronze sculpture he executed in 1952-1953 for the terrace of the Time-Life Building on New Bond Street, London (Lund Humphries, no. 335). The full-size Draped Reclining Figure measures 62 inches long, that is, ten times the length of the small model. Moore established the pose of the reclining figure in the maquette, which also suggests the extent to which drapery would be a significant element in the large sculpture.
In 1951 the building designed by Viennese architect Michael Rosenauer to serve as the new London headquarters of Time-Life was nearing completion. Time-Life engaged Hugh Casson and Misha Black as design-coordinators, and Francis Brennan was sent from New York as serve as an advisor. Time-Life wanted their new London office to display the best of new British art, and in November 1951 the designers approached Moore, who recently had his first exhibition at the Tate Gallery, to produce a sculpture for the third floor terrace. Brennan daringly suggested it be set in water environment; he later recalled, "In my mind's eye I could see a whole new Moore experience. Not a jetting fountain, to be sure, but water--gently pooling, even perhaps gently trickling from level to level But the great man politely vetoed the suggestion, and we settled for the 'safer', more familiar reclining figure now in place" (quoted in R. Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, New York, 1987, p. 241).
The figure that Moore proposed, as he wrote, "Originally wasn't for this purpose. Like all of my sculptures it would have been done anyway. I had the idea for it and, in my opinion, it turned out about the right size and the right proportion for the Time-Life terrace" (quoted in J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, Henry Moore, New York, 1968, p. 204).
"I knew that the figure would be seen from the Reception Room and it seemed to me that in cold weather a nude--even an abstractish one-- might look incongruous to people looking out at her from a warm room. So I became absorbed by the problems of the draped figure... Gradually I evolved a treatment that exploited the fluidity of plaster. The treatment of drapery in my stone carvings was a matter of large, simple creases and folds but the modeling technique enabled me to build up large forms with a host of small crinklings and rucklings of the fabric" (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Berkeley, 2002, p. 280).
"It was one of the earliest of my draped figures and must have been done just after my first visit to Greece which led to my doing the draped sculptures. My using drapery is a mixture of two happenings. Firstly, there were the shelter drawings, which caused me to look at drapery and use drapery. Secondly the visit to Greece made me realize how the Greeks used drapery to emphasise the tension of the inside form I then began to see and treat the drapery itself as a form element. The wrinkles and crinkles of the drapery at one stage began to remind me in close-up of mountain ranges" (quoted in J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, op. cit.).
"This figure was made for a small terrace, but because the terrace is in the open air I made it over life-size; if it stood up it would be a figure about 7 ft. high... Although static, this figure is not meant to be in slack repose but, as it were, alerted" (quoted in A. Wilkinson, ed., op. cit.).