Henry Moore

Shelter Drawing: Seated Mother and Child

Pencil, ink, watercolour & gouache: 14.3(h) x 11(w) in /

36.4(h) x 27.9(w) cm

Signed lower right: Moore

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BJ 104



Castleford 1898 – 1986 Much Hadham


Shelter Drawing: Seated Mother and Child


Signed lower right: Moore

Pencil, wax crayon, coloured crayon, watercolour, pastel, gouache, pen and ink on paper: 14 ⅜ x 11 in / 36.4 x 27.9 cm

Framed size: 23 ¼ x 19 ½ in / 59.1 x 49.5 cm


Executed c.1941


Recorded in the Henry Moore Foundation archives as HMF 1861a



Private collection, UK, 1950s, then by descent



Spain, Barcelona, Fundacio “la Caixa”, Henry Moore, 18th July – 15th October 2006

London, Tate Britain, Henry Moore, 24th February – 8th August 2010; then travelled to The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 23rd October 2010 – 6th February 2011 and Leeds Art Gallery, 4th March – 12th June 2011, cat. no. 103



Chris Stephens (ed.), Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Publishing, London, 2010, cat. no. 103, p. 171, illustrated in colour


When Sir Kenneth Clark, Director of the National Gallery and Chairman of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee, was shown the first shelter sketchbook, he persuaded Moore to reconsider becoming a War Artist. Roughly sixty-five finished drawings were enlarged from the shelter sketchbook studies, seventeen of which were purchased by the WAAC and following their exhibition at the National Gallery in London were distributed amongst English museums.

Moore was already a successful artist, but the public reception of these drawings effected an immediate change in the perception of his work and he was able to make a living without the support of teaching for the first time. This also marked a turning point in the course of his work: ‘Without the war, which directed one to life itself… I think I would have been a far less sensitive and responsible person – if I had ignored all that and went on working just as before. The war brought out and encouraged the humanist side in one’s work’ (the artist cited in Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, Faber and Faber, London, 1987, p. 176).


Moore revisited and reworked some of his most successful shelter compositions, such as Woman Seated in the Underground, 1941 (Tate Gallery, presented by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee in 1946), in a more naturalistic and technically sophisticated style. The present work combines two different aspects of the underground scenes and the artist’s favourite motifs: the mother and child and reclining figures. Seated on a bench against a brick-coloured wall, Moore’s mother is intricately described with a dense structure of black ink over white crayon with touches of yellow; her form whole, her features clear and expressive. The fingers of her right hand are held against her breast holding those of her child, her left hand holding the bowl and spoon with which she has been feeding him. Prefiguring Moore’s later series of Madonna and Child studies on paper and in sculpture (the vortex-like tunnel behind also a receding halo), the figures embody familial devotion and the heroism of humanity in the face of apocalyptic fear.


Moore’s use of drapery was important in establishing the substance and poise of his figures, a result of his study of classical sculpture. Referring to a marble Nereid from Xanthos in Lycia, c. 400BC, he commented, ‘The drapery here is so sensitively carved that it gives the impression of light, flimsy material, wet with spray, being blown against the body by the wind. It shows how drapery can reveal the form more effectively than if the figure were nude because it can emphasise the prominent parts of the body, and falls slackly in the hollows. This is something I learned when I came to do the Shelter drawings, in which all the figures are draped’ (Henry Moore, Henry Moore at the British Museum, British Museum Publications Ltd., London, 1981, p. 62).


Diminishing into the distance behind the woman’s left shoulder, the underground tunnel is lined with the draped, sculptural forms of reclining figures. Moore produced at least ten variations of the tube tunnel perspective in various colour combinations in his Large Shelter Sketchbook of 1941. The swirling vortex depicts the extension to Liverpool Street Underground, which the

artist found the most visually arresting of stations: ‘The new tunnel had been completed except for the rails and at night its entire length was occupied by a double row of sleeping figures’ (the artist cited in John Hedgecoe and Henry Moore, Henry Moore, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1968, p. 140).  This drawing is very similar in size and format to Shelter scene, c. 1942, in the collection of Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut. Both works are thought to belong to a group of eight shelter drawings ‘drawn in the middle of large paper sheets, each originally 380 x 280 mm, allowing for a wide border to be covered by a curved mount’.[1] Other pages from this group are in the collections of the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; The Henry Moore Foundation; the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, University of East Anglia, Norwich and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.


Interweaving more than five different media, this beautiful drawing creates an incredible sense of depth with the layering of washes and the density of line, projecting the central figures forth via the wax resist technique: ‘I sketched with pen and ink, wax crayons and watercolour, using the wax-resist technique which I had discovered by accident before the war. I had been doing a drawing for my three-year old niece using two or three wax crayons. Wishing to add some colour, I found a box of watercolour paints and was delighted to see the watercolour run off the parts of the drawing that had a surface of wax. It was like magic and I found it very useful when doing my sketch books’ (the artist cited in J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, ibid., p. 140).


The shelter drawings, Lord Clark later said, ‘showed not only insight and compassion but marvellous graphic skill. Since circumstances kept him from his sculpture, he became, in effect, a painter’ (cited in A. Garrould, Henry Moore Drawings, Thames and Hudson, London, 1988, pp. 18–20).



Henry Moore, Woman Seated in the Underground 1941

Gouache, ink, watercolour and crayon on paper: 48.3 x 38.1 cm

Tate, presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946




Castleford 1898 – 1986 Much Hadham


The seventh child of Raymond Spencer and Mary Moore, Henry was born in Castleford, Yorkshire in 1898. His paternal great-grandfather was of Irish origin, but his father and grandfather were born in Yorkshire where, for two or three generations, they worked the land or went down the mines. At the age of twelve Moore obtained a grant to study at the Grammar School in Castleford where he was inspired by his art teacher to pursue a career in the arts. In 1916 he began to teach, but by February 1917 he had joined the army and left to fight in

France. After being wounded in action in November 1917 at the battle of Cambrai, Moore was excused from active service. He returned to England, where he became a physical education instructor in the army. At the end of the war, Moore received a veteran’s grant to study at Leeds School of Art and in 1921 he joined a course at the Royal College of Art in London. A further grant enabled him to travel extensively from 1925, visiting Rome, Florence, Venice, Ravenna and Paris, where he met Picasso, Giacometti, Ernst, Eluard and Breton among others.


On returning from his travels Moore was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art where he worked two days a week until 1931, as well as teaching at the Chelsea School of Art until 1939. He was appointed an Official War Artist during the Second World War from 1940–1942 for which he made a series of drawings of people sheltering in the London Underground, as well as studies of miners at the coal face. In these pictures he frequently used

watercolour over wax crayon. After the war Moore enjoyed a great deal of success, with his works receiving critical acclaim all around the world. He executed many major commissions for museums, public institutions, private collectors and municipal buildings and as a result he became one of the most famous British artists of the twentieth century.


At the beginning of the 1970s Moore created a foundation, the aim of which was to promote public awareness of sculpture and to protect his own work for the future. Located in his home village of Much Hadham, Hertfordshire, the foundation houses a library, archives and a collection of drawings, prints, maquettes and sculptures by the artist. Heavily influenced by the work of Michelangelo, Moore created monumental works in marble, stone and bronze and was enthralled by the theme of the family, and in particular the mother and child. His unique oeuvre draws inspiration from prehistoric, archaic, Egyptian, African, Mexican and Roman sculpture.

Throughout his career he was noted for his output of graphic art – drawings, watercolours, etchings and lithographs which were not necessarily related to individual sculptures.


[1] ‘It is known that Heinz Roland [of Roland, Browse and Delbanco gallery] used this style of mounting, and it is likely that Moore made these drawings at his request…c1942’ (A. Garrould, op. cit., p.106).

Post War BritishHenry Moore