Draped Reclining Figure in a Landscape, c. 1973/77
Signed upper left and numbered '29' upper right
Pencil, charcoal, grey wash, watercolour wash, chinagraph and goauche
17.2 x 25.4 cm
Henry Moore is largely regarded as Britain’s most significant modern sculptor. Throughout his career Moore focused on the motif of the reclining female figure. Early on he imagined the classical...
Henry Moore is largely regarded as Britain’s most significant modern sculptor. Throughout his career Moore focused on the motif of the reclining female figure. Early on he imagined the classical theme in modernist terms, abstracting the human form. However, 'Draped Reclining Figure in a Landscape' is characteristic of his sculptural drawings from the 1970s and 1980s when his figures became increasingly detailed and realistic.
Drawing always played a fundamental role in Moore’s oeuvre. During the First World War Moore invented a drawing technique in which he combined resistant wax or charcoal with watercolour washes. By layering mixed media he was able to convey a sense of depth to sculptural figures such as this. Drawing, for Moore, was always a means of representing “the three-dimensional form in space, on a flat surface”.
Following a series of visits to Greece in the early 1950s, Moore admired the effect used in ancient Greek sculpture known as “wet-drapery”. He began to add fabric to his own figures, recognising that it could “serve to stress the sculptural idea of the figure”. Here the addition of drapery highlights the contours of the body, particularly the exaggerated limbs over which the fabric folds and creases.
This work also reveals Moore’s preoccupation with relating figures to the landscape. In the post-war years Moore became increasingly intent on portraying the British landscape as idyllic, as if untouched by the destruction of the First and Second World Wars. Here the curves of the figure echo the organic shapes and rolling hills of the landscape behind. Moore’s classical figures, set in beautiful countryside, contrast starkly with machine-like creatures created by the younger generation of British sculptors including Paolozzi, Clarke and Armitage.
Waddington Galleries, London, 1985,
Private Collection (acquired from Waddington Galleries)
A. Garrould, Henry Moore: Complete Drawings Volume 4, 1950-76, Aldershot, 2003, p. 200, no. AG69-77.28, HMF 3209, illustrated.