Maquette for Figure on Steps
Bronze with a brown patina: 6.5(h) x 0(w) in / 16.5(h) x 0(w) cm
Castleford 1898 - 1986 Much Hadham
Ref: BR 27
Maquette for Figure on Steps
Bronze with a brown patina: 6½ in / 16.5 cm height
Cast from an unnumbered edition of 10 plus one artist's copy
Conceived in plaster and cast in 1956
Private collection, California
James Goodman Gallery, New York
Sidney E. Frank, USA
Richard Green, London
Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore Complete Sculpture 1955–64, Vol. 3, Lund Humphries, London, 2005, no. 426, p. 34 (another cast illustrated)
During the mid-1950s a series of public commissions (including a monumental sculpture for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris) inspired Moore to explore the integration of figurative sculpture in an architectural setting. As a result he created a group of drawings and maquettes which feature draped figures seated on or against geometric architectural elements such as benches and steps. While the setting of the seated figure was a departure for Moore, the
draped figure recalled an interest apparent in his earlier shelter drawings. Moore’s interest was revitalised by his visit to Greece in 1951, inspiring a return to the study of drapery and its importance in the revelation of form: ‘Drapery can emphasise the tension in a figure, for where the form pushes outwards, such as on the shoulders, the thighs, the breasts, etc., it can be pulled tight across the form (almost like a bandage), and by contrast with the crumpled slackness of the drapery which lies between the salient points, the pressure from inside is intensified’ (the artist cited in P. James, Henry Moore on Sculpture, MacDonald, London, 1966, p. 231).
Moore’s first draped figure conceived in bronze was the Reclining Figure commissioned
for the Time-Life building in 1952–53, during which he developed a technique that undoubtedly informed the modelling of diaphanous material represented here: ‘gradually I evolved a treatment that exploited the fluidity of plaster. The treatment of drapery in my stone carvings was a matter of large, simple creases and folds but the modelling technique enabled me to build up large forms with a host of small crinklings and ruckings of the fabric’ (P. James, ibid., 1966, p. 230).
Other casts of Maquette for Figure on Steps are in the collections of the Tate Gallery and the Otter Gallery, University of Chichester. Large-scale versions of the Draped Seated Woman, 1957–58 are in the collections of the Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal, Germany and the Musée d’Art Moderne, Brussels, Belgium.
Moore was made Companion of Honour in 1955 and appointed a Trustee of the National Gallery, London the same year.
HENRY MOORE OM, CH
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
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.