Seated Female Nude, 1929
Signed and dated lower right 'Moore 29'
Brush and black ink and ink wash, charcoal, white chalk and pencil on paper
23 1/4 x 16 in, 59.2 x 40.6 cm
This drawing by Henry Moore is a remarkable example from the sculptor’s early oeuvre, created in 1929, just five years after he graduated from the Royal College of Art in London. The bold and dexterous line of the figure demonstrates Moore’s self-assurance and ability to capture the voluptuous form of the human body on a two-dimensional surface. Moore made a number of similar drawings of a seated nude figure at this time in charcoal, chalk and ink wash; other examples of which can be found in international collections such as the British Museum, Manchester City Art Gallery, Henry Moore Foundation and Art Gallery of Ontario.
The model for these drawings is likely to have been Irina Radetzky, the young painter who married Moore in 1929. Shortly after their wedding, the couple moved to Hampstead to join a growing colony of avant-garde artists including Barbara Hepworth and her husband Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo and Roland Penrose. In this drawing Irina is shown in their first home at 11a Parkhill Road, leaning on one arm as she gazes pensively into the distance. Irina was able to sit motionless for long periods of time and frequently modelled for Moore, giving his drawings a sculptural sense of serene nobility.
In this drawing Moore starts to experiment with the stylisation of the human body, pushing it towards abstraction. The stark and impersonal appearance of Irina’s face in this drawing echoes the sculpture ‘Mask’ from the same year, which was purchased by the Director of the National Gallery Sir Philip Hendy. The monumentality of the human form also reveals early the influence of Picasso and the weighty Neoclassical figures that had occupied his work after the First World War.
During this early period, Moore’s reputation had already been established by the support of British museums and fellow artists. Having sold four drawings to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester in 1927, Moore went on to have his first solo exhibition at the Warren Gallery, London in 1928, where notable contemporaries such as Augustus John and Jacob Epstein purchased his work. Just a year after the present drawing was made, Moore exhibited in the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and joined the Seven and Five Society alongside Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth.
Sir Michael Sadler, Oxford
The Leicester Galleries (Ernest Brown & Phillips), Ltd., London (acquired from the above)
Dr. Letterman, UK
Waddington Galleries, Ltd., London
Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York
Jan Krugier Gallery, New York
Collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch (acquired from the above September 1989)
London, The Leicester Galleries (Ernest Brown & Phillips), Ltd., New Year Exhibition of Pictures, Drawings and Sculpture by Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Artists, January 1955, p.7, no.34
Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario (5 November - 31 December 1977); Iwaki City, Fukushima, Shimin Art Gallery Museum (21 January - 12 February 1978); Kanazawa City, Ishikawa, Prefectural Museum of Art (18 February - 26 March 1978); Kumamoto, Kumamoto Municipal Museum (1 April - 23 April 1978); Tokyo, Seibu Gallery (28 April - 31 May 1978) and London, Tate Gallery (28 June - 28 August 1978), The Drawings of Henry Moore, pp.59 and 61, no.44 (illus. p.60)
This work is registered in the Henry Moore Foundation Archives under no.705
A. Garrould, ed., Henry Moore: Complete Drawings, 1916-1929, The Henry Moore Foundation / Lund Humphries,
London, 1996, vol.1, p.212, no.AG 29.20 (illus. p.213; with incorrect dimensions)