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 the most important and influential stage of his career and took on several major outdoor sculpture commissions including...
At the end of the Second World War, Henry Moore was at the most important and influential stage of his career and took on several major outdoor sculpture commissions including the monumental ‘Memorial Figure’ (1945-46) for Dartington Hall in Devon. ‘Maquette for a Reclining Figure’ is one of two studies for this pivotal commission, which marked a newfound Classicism within Moore’s oeuvre.
The monumental ‘Memorial Figure’ carved in Hornton stone was commissioned as a memorial to Christopher Martin, Dartington Hall’s first arts administrator and a close friend and colleague 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. The present work is imbued with a deep sense of dignity and permanence. Richard Cork has described the monumental piece as “stoical as well as sad... Intact, harmonious and entirely unruffled, she presides over her surroundings with a mellowness which honours the softly rolling Devonshire landscape.” Employing a Classical use of drapery, Moore is able to create a more subtle and sensory understanding of the figure. In the finished work the drapery was to become more stylised, due to the nature of stone carving, but in this bronze, Moore evokes every ripple and swell of the material.
‘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, who was instrumental in creating the current MOMA building and who 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.