Maquette for Reclining Figure, Conceived in 1945
Bronze. Cast before 1963 in an edition of 7 plus 1 artist proof.
4 1/8 x 6 7/8 x 3 1/8 in, 10.2 x 17.4 x 7.7 cm
At the end of the Second World War, Henry Moore was at one of the most important and influential stages in his career, taking on several major outdoor sculpture commissions...
At the end of the Second World War, Henry Moore was at one of the most important and influential stages in his career, taking on several major outdoor sculpture commissions including Memorial Figure (1945-46) for Dartington Hall, Devon. Richard Cork has described Memorial Figure as ‘Intact, harmonious and entirely unruffled, she presides over her surroundings with a mellowness’. Maquette for a Reclining Figure is one of two studies for this pivotal commission and marks a new found classicism in Moore’s oeuvre.
Carved from Hornton stone, Memorial Figure was intended as a memorial to Christopher Martin, Dartington Hall’s first arts administrator and a close friend of Moore’s. The Dartington Experiment was begun by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst in 1925 as a space to drive social and cultural change and attracted many of the greatest thinkers and artists of the 20th century, including Bertrand Russel, Ben Nicholson and Walter Gropius. In the Post-War era it became hugely influential in the creation of several British institutions, including the Arts Council and the NHS.
The reclining figure is perhaps Moore’s most iconic subject and became the defining image of Modern British Art in the post-war period. Moore had moved beyond the angular and surrealistic abstraction of the 1930s, to create works imbued with a deep sense of dignity and permanence, more attune with classical sculpture. Henry Moore stated how “From the very beginning the reclining figure has been my main theme. The first one I made was around 1924, and probably more than half of my sculptures since then have been reclining figures”.
Maquette for Reclining Figure marks a pivotal moment in Moore’s career when he was awarded the sculpture prize at the 24th Venice Biennale and proclaimed Britain’s greatest living artist by Nikolaus Pevsner. This maquette was previously owned by Nelson A. Rockefeller, President of the Museum of Modern Art. Rockefeller was instrumental in creating the current MoMA building and had an outstanding collection of modern art.
Moos Gallery, Toronto
Stephen Hahn Gallery, New York
Nelson & Happy Rockefeller (acquired from the above 27 December 1963)
Private Collection, USA
David Sylvester, ed., Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1948, vol. 1, London, 1969, no.242, illus. of the terracotta version p.15
Living with Irish Art: New Sculpture and Drawings by Henry Moore, Leicester Galleries, London, 1946, no.3, illus. of another cast n.p.