Reclining figures, 1931
Signed and dated
Pen brush and ink, chalk, and wash on paper laid down on board
15 x 11 in, 38.1 x 27.9 cm
Henry Moore’s works from the 1930s are the most important of his entire oeuvre. During this time he created work of tremendous originality and vision, which Tate curator Chris Stephens...
Henry Moore’s works from the 1930s are the most important of his entire oeuvre. During this time he created work of tremendous originality and vision, which Tate curator Chris Stephens has described as “darker, edgier and more complex than the familiar Moore”. The decade culminated in an exceptional group of unique lead pieces produced at his Kent studio between 1938 and 1939.
In this dynamic figurative drawing the simplified forms with phallic-like heads, one of which is pierced with a single hole or eye, seem to anticipate the Corsehill stone 'Reclining Figure'. The arrangement of the model’s heavy limbs and undulating curves show an important connection between woman and the landscape, alluding to an eternal femininity that evokes the sculptor’s deep affiliation with the rolling British countryside.
Such forceful representations of the human body are not only feminine but distinctly primeval. His close observation of ancient sculpture, drawn from the collections of Mexican, Oceanic and African artefacts at the British Museum, emerges in the fluid lines of this early study. These gestural marks channel a unique energy which the art historian Julian Stallabrass has likened to “the stirring of primitive magma beneath the crust of civilization”.
J.H. Reiseger, UK
Hanover Gallery, London
Helen Tarr, USA
Private collection, Switzerland
Garrould, Ann ed. 'Henry Moore, Complete Drawings'. Henry Moore Foundation, Lund Humphries, 2003, vol. 2, HMF 994, AG 33.14, p. 86, ill.