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Impressionist & Modern Art

Henry Moore: Figure, Form & Family

An important drawing by one of Britain’s most significant and celebrated artists will go on sale in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale at Sotheby's in London on 2 March. The work appears to be closely related to Henry Moore's series of family group bronzes, which the artist created in the mid-1940s. Whilst many drawings of this subject were made as preparatory sketches for the sculptures, the present work is an independent work that appears to be a variation on a bronze from 1944, reversing the figures of mother and father. Two Women with Children is a particularly fully-worked example, exemplifying the artist’s distinctive use of medium with a dynamic combination of watercolour, wax crayon, brush and ink and charcoal.

HENRY MOORE, TWO WOMEN WITH CHILDREN, 1945. ESTIMATE: £250,000—350,000.

Two Women with Children also recalls the motif Mother and Child, a very important theme within the artist’s œuvre, which he revisited in a variety of mediums ranging from sculpture to drawing.

Moore managed to convey both the gravitas and timelessness of the traditional figurative pose of the Madonna and Child, and the intimacy and temporality of a mother holding her child in her lap. In Moore’s own words: "From very early on I have had an obsession with the Mother and Child theme. It has been a universal theme from the beginning of time and some of the earliest sculptures we've found from the Neolithic Age are of a Mother and Child. I discovered when drawing, I could turn every little scribble, blot or smudge into a Mother and Child. (Later, I did the same with the Reclining Figure theme!) So that I was conditioned, as it were, to see it in everything. I suppose it could be explained as a 'Mother' complex" (Henry Moore & John Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, London, 1986, p. 155).

HENRY MOORE'S MOTHER AND CHILD, 1944, AND TUBE SHELTER PERSPECTIVE, 1941. © THE HENRY MOORE FOUNDATION.

Dating from 1945, Two Women with Children was executed at a time during which drawing had taken on a new importance for the artist. During the Second World War Moore had produced a series of drawings whilst taking cover from air raids in the tube stations of London. Sculptural in their approach to the human form, Moore's shelter drawings which he executed in watercolour and wax remain some of his most powerful images, documenting not only the horrors and anxieties of war, but the importance of resilience and togetherness in time of peril. 

HENRY MOORE, GREY TUBE SHELTER, 1940. TATE COLLECTION. 

The enduring legacy of Moore's work has influenced countless creatives, artists and designers – and this year is no exception. Christopher Bailey, Artistic Director of fashion house Burberry has spoken of Moore's influence over his forthcoming collection, to be unveiled during London Fashion Week in the Burberry Maker's House, alongside more than 40 sculptures, maquettes and working models allowing viewers a glimpse in to the creative processes of two icons of British cultural heritage: "Henry Moore's art has always loomed large in my imagination", explains Bailey."Moore's work on display will be a shining example of the creativity and enormous contribution he made to the development of contemporary art in the UK and way beyond, and I’m excited to be showing our February collection alongside the remarkable work of the artist that inspired it."

BURBERRY'S COLLECTION TO BE UNVEILED AT LONDON FASHION WEEK FEBRUARY 2017, AND HENRY MOORE'S SHEEP PIECE, 1971–72. © THE HENRY MOORE FOUNDATION. PHOTO: JOSH OLINS.

The partnership between the Henry Moore Foundation and Burberry marks not only 40 years of the foundation, but also Moore’s significance in art history as a major contributor to the story of international Modernism. 

 

MAIN IMAGE: HENRY MOORE, TWO WOMEN WITH CHILDREN, 1945. ESTIMATE: £250,000—350,000.

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