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Henry Moore - Madonna and child

Henry Moore

Madonna and child

Bronze with a green and brown patina: 5.7(h) x 30.1(w) in / 14.6(h) x 76.4(w) cm
Signed on the back: H Moore

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Castleford 1898 - 1986 Much Hadham

Ref: BM 79


Madonna and child


Signed on the back: H Moore

Bronze with a green & brown patina: 5 ¾ x 2 ¾ x 2 ½ in /

14.6 x 7 x 6.4 cm

On a wood base: 1 ¾ x 3 ⅝ x 3 ¼ in / 4.4 x 9.2 x 8.3 cm

Conceived in terracotta in 1943 and cast circa 1945 by Charles Gaskin, The Art Bronze Foundry, London in an unnumbered edition of 7 plus one artist’s copy

LH 223






Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., Inc, New York, acquired from the artist

Mr & Mrs Harry M. Goldblatt, May 1969, acquired from the above



Robert Melville, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1969, London, 1970, p. 351, no. 308 (another cast illustrated)

David Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture, With Comments by the Artist, London, 1981, p. 310, no. 158 (another cast illustrated p. 91)

David Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture 1921-48, Vol. 1, Lund Humphries, London, 1988, p. 13, no. 223 (terracotta version illustrated p. 138)



The present work was cast from a terracotta model made in 1943 for the Horton stone Madonna and child at the Parish Church of St Matthew’s, Northampton, which Moore described as ‘one of the most difficult and heart-searching sculptures that I ever tried to do.’[1] Having seen Moore’s Shelter drawings, the Rev. Walter Hussey (later Dean of Chichester) commissioned the sculpture to commemorate the half-centenary of the church, giving the artist his first opportunity to carve in stone since the start of the war.[2] Despite the clear correspondence of the subject to his preoccupation with the Mother and child theme, the gravity of the commission made Moore apprehensive and he insisted upon months of preparatory drawing and approximately twelve clay models before being satisfied that his idea could be realised.


‘I began thinking of the ‘Madonna and Child’ for St Matthew’s considering in what ways a ‘Madonna and Child’ differs from a carving of just a ‘Mother and Child’ – that is, by considering how in my opinion religious art differs from secular art. It’s not easy to describe in words what this difference is, except by saying in general terms that the ‘Madonna and Child’ should have an austerity and a nobility, and some touch of grandeur (even hieratic aloofness) which is missing in the everyday ‘Mother and Child’ idea. Of the sketches and models I have done, the one chosen has I think a quiet dignity and gentleness. I have tried to give a sense of complete easiness and repose, as though the Madonna could stay in that position for ever (as being in stone, she will have to do).’[3]











Castleford, Yorks 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.159.

[2] He also commissioned Benjamin Britten to compose a cantata for the celebration.

[3] The artist cited in D Sylvester (ed.), op cit., p.XXV.

Other Works By
Henry Moore:

Henry Moore - Maquette for a Draped reclining woman Henry Moore - Reclining figure: Snake Henry Moore - Maquette for Figure on steps


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