Henry Moore

Small Maquette No. 2 for Reclining Figure, 1950

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Castleford 1898 – 1986 Much Hadham


Small Maquette No. 2 for Reclining Figure, 1950


Signed and numbered on the base: Moore 1/9

Bronze with dark brown patina: 9 ¼ in / 23.5 cm length

On a wood base: 10 x 4 ¼ x 1 ½ in / 25.4 x 10.8 x 3.8 cm

Conceived and cast in a numbered edition of 9+1 in 1950-51

LH 292b



Marlborough Fine Art, London, acquired from the artist

Maurice & Muriel Fulton, acquired from the above in June 1965



London, Marlborough Fine Art, Henry Moore, July-August 1965, no. 3, illustrated

The University of Chicago, Chicago’s Homage to Henry Moore, An Exhibition of Sculpture and Drawings by Henry Moore, December 1967, no. 108, as Reclining Figure



Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1949-1954, Vol. II, Lund Humphries, London, 1986, p.32, no. 292b, another cast illustrated p.33



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.’[1]


This striking bronze is a maquette for one of Moore’s most significant sculptures, the large Reclining Figure: Festival, 1951, commissioned by the Arts Council for the Festival of Britain (now in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh). Though the Arts Council originally requested a family group, Moore envisaged a reclining figure from a drawing in 1950 which developed into one of the most powerful works of his career and his first life-sized reclining bronze. For the artist the sculpture’s profundity lay in the progression of his stylistic development: ‘The Festival Reclining Figure is perhaps my first sculpture where the space and form are completely dependent on and inseparable from each other. I had reached the stage where I wanted my sculpture to be truly three-dimensional. In my earliest use of holes in sculpture, the holes were features in themselves. Now the space and the form are so naturally fused that they are one’ (the artist cited in J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, Henry Spencer Moore, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1968, p. 188).


The integration of space and form which Moore achieved in this work was largely a result of the use of bronze which enabled him to open up the sculpture in a way impossible in wood or stone. The full-size figure also signifies a change in the artist’s working methods, being one of the first post-war sculptures made from a plaster working model, rather than terracotta or clay. From this time forth, plaster was Moore’s preferred modelling medium.[2] While the surface of this working model is coloured with the same green patina as the final sculpture, the figure lacks the series of inscribed lines like a cartographic design, which draws the eye along and through the lithe, twisting limbs. Bronze as a material allowed Moore the ‘freedom to explore the relationship between mass and space more radically than he could within the confines of stone and wood. In these materials holes are opened up consciously, with the shape around the hole often being restricted by the size and shape of the block. In bronze there are no such restrictions.’ [3]


The conception of the figure as a public work with no fixed location (due to the temporary nature of the exhibition) may have provoked the assertive independence of the piece with spectacular views created within the work rather than against which it would be seen. Looking lengthways through the sculpture’s elegant interior, the balance between sinuous form and space recalls Moore’s enduring fascination for caves. As Moore continued to strive for more expansive three-dimensionality in his works, the creation of these maquettes slowly replaced his sketches and drawings as the initial stages for a larger works. These Maquettes were a way in which Moore could experiment with the relationship between form and space in his sculptures and finding the balance between both so that one was not more important than the other.


Recently I have attempted to make the forms and the spaces (not holes) inseparable … In the last bronze Reclining Figure (1951) I think I have in some measure succeeded in this aim … Seen in plan the figure has ‘pools’ of space.” (Henry Moore)


Henry Moore, Small Maquette No. 1 for Reclining Figure, 1950

Bronze with dark brown patina: 9 ½ in / 24.1 cm

LH 292b





Castleford, Yorkshire 1898 – 1986 Much Hadham, Herts



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] The artist cited in J. Hedgecoe and H. Moore, Henry Spencer Moore, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1968, p.150.

[2] See Anita Feldman and Malcolm Woodward, Henry Moore: Plasters, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2011, p.54.

[3] M. Fath (ed.) C. Allemand-Cosneau and D. Mitchinson, Henry Moore, From the Inside Out, Prestel Verlag, Munich, 1996, p. 118

Post War BritishSculptureHenry Moore