Lot 38
  • 38

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H.

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  • Henry Moore OM, CH
  • Inscribed with the signature Moore and numbered 7/7
  • Bronze, brown patina

  • Length: 14 ft.
  • 4.3 m


Acquired from the artist on January 18, 1980


Philadelphia Museum of Art, Henry Moore: An Exhibition in Celebration of Philip I. Berman, 1998, no. 6


Henry Moore at the Serpentine (exhibition catalogue), Serpentine Gallery and Kensington Gardens, London, 1978, illustration of another cast pl. 31-33
Henry Moore: Sculptures, Drawings, Graphics 1921-1981 (exhibition catalogue), Palacio de Velazquez, Madrid; Palacio de Cristal, Madrid; Parque de El Retiro, Madrid, 1981, no. 554, illustration of another cast pp. 266-69
Henry Moore in La Jolla (exhibition catalogue), Tasende Gallery, California, 1982, illustration of another cast fig. 3
Henry Moore en Mexico: escultura, dibujo, gráfica de 1921 a 1982 (exhibition catalogue), Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico, 1982-83, no. 1, illustration of another cast p. 2
Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings, London, 1983, vol. 5, no. 655, illustrations of another cast pp.22-27
Henry Moore: The Reclining Figure (exhibition catalogue), Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah; Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California, 1984-85, nos. 57a-b, illustration of another cast p. 88
Stephen Spender, In Irina's Garden with Henry Moore's Sculpture, London, 1986, illustration of another cast pl. 85 and 107
Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, New York, 1987, illustration of another cast fig. 171
Moore al Castello Sforzesco (exhibition catalogue), Castello Sforzesco, Milan, 1992, illustration of another cast pl. 83-4
David Cohen, Moore in the Bagatelle Gardens, New York, 1993, illustration of another cast pl. XXXVII & XXXVIII
Claude Allemand-Cosneau, Manfred Fath and David Mitchinson, Henry Moore, From the Inside Out: Plasters, Carvings and Drawings, Munich, 1996, fig. 33, illustration of another cast p. 162
Henry Moore: Rétrospective (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul, 2002, no. 169, illustration of another cast p. 203

Catalogue Note

The present work, conceived in 1975, is an extraordinary example of Moore's agility at representing three-dimensional form on a monumental scale.  The sculpture consists of three separate peices that comprise a grand structure of compelling beauty.  By separating these forms, Moore permits the viewer to consider the spatial depth of his work and the relationship between the solids and voids of the sculpture (see fig. 1).  The solidity of each piece and their specific placement on the base at once creates a work that is conceptually unified yet elementally disparate. This structural paradox marks Moore's true genius as a manipulator of form and visual provocateur.

Julie Summers has written on the present subject as follows: “Moore talked a great deal from early on in his career about his belief that sculpture had to be three-dimensional, that one viewpoint was insufficient, uninteresting, and it is in his two- and three-piece sculptures that he achieves a consummate three-dimensionality, so that the sculpture can be read differently from any angle.  From one side of this piece the viewer is presented with the dramatic sweep of the skirt – curved lines in a flat surface; from the front all three elements are foreshortened – an extremely dynamic view.  Seen from a sideways perspective, the skirt at once protects and shields the more vulnerably, smaller leg section from the viewer and, from the foreshortened perspective of a head-on-view, provides an inviting curve leading to the head.  From all these views the head section dominates yet does not overpower.  The skirt section of the figure is based on a piece of the mould used for casting Helmet Head No. 6 (LH, no. 651, see fig. 2)" (Julie  Summers in Claude Allemand-Cosneau, Manfred Fath and David Mitchinson, Henry Moore, From the Inside Out: Plasters, Carvings and Drawings (exhibition catalogue), Munich, 1996, 1996-97, p. 162).

This sculpture is Moore's largest three-piece reclining figure.  It is also his most technically sophisticated and complex.  He had experimented with dividing and sectioning his sculpture in the 1960s with his Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 3 (see fig. 3), but here he has evolved his idea beyond his original expectations.  Henry Moore himself explained the development of the divided forms which make up his later reclining figures as follows: “I did the first one in two pieces almost without intending to.  But after I had done it, then the second one became a conscious idea… Once these two parts become separated you don’t expect it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore you can justifiably make it look like a landscape or a rock.  If it’s a single figure you can guess, what it’s going to be like.  If it’s in two pieces, there’s a bigger surprise, you have more unexpected views; therefore the special advantage over painting – of having he possibility of many different views – is more fully explored… Sculpture is like a journey.  You have a different view as you return.  The three-dimensional view is full of surprises in a way that a two-dimensional world could never be (“Henry Moore’s World,” Atlantic Monthly, January 1962).

When this work was exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum in 1998, Michael R. Taylor gave the following analysis of this sculpture in the exhibition catalogue: “The intervals between the three sections of the sculpture can be likened to the manner in which broken antique figures, such as the pediment sculptures from the Parthenon in the British Museum, are displayed.  Moore offers the viewer a correctly proportioned figure, with space and form completely dependent on and inseparable from each other, thereby allowing us mentally to complete the gap between the upper body and the stranded legs.  The fully three-dimensional character of the work allows for almost unlimited points of view and unexpected vistas, which constantly change as one walks around the sculptures.  The combination of spatial richness and exuberant sexuality marks Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped as a masterpiece of Moore’s late style.  The sculpture has an emotional  intensity that speaks to us on many levels and conveys with an eloquent assurance the artist’s unshakable belief in the significance of life in its spiritual and organic aspects” (Henry Moore: An Exhibition in Celebration of Philip I. Berman (exhibition catalogue), The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1998, p. 39).

The present work was cast in an edition of seven, plus one artist's proof.  The casting began as an edition of six bronzes, and the first four casts are numbered accordingly.  By the fifth casting, the edition was expanded to seven, which explains the change in edition numbering of the remaining four casts.  Out of the eight casts, only two remain in private hands.  The locations of these casts are as follows:

1/6 - City of Gavle, Sweden
2/6 - Louisiana Museum of Art, Humlebaek
3/6 - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston
4/6 - Sold: Christie's, New York, November 4, 2003, lot 35 ($6,167,500)
5/7 - Museum of Contemporary Art, Teheran
6/7 - The Columbus Museum, Columbus, Ohio
7/7 - The present cast
0/7 - The Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham

Fig. 1, Detail of the present work

Fig. 2, Henry Moore, Helmut Head No. 6, 1975, painted plaster, The Henry Moore Foundation

Fig. 3, Henry Moore, Two Pieces Reclining Figure No. 3, 1931, bronze, Dallas Museum of Art