Lot 31
  • 31

Henry Moore

3,000,000 - 5,000,000 USD
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  • Henry Moore
  • Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1
  • Inscribed the signature Moore and numbered 5/6
  • Bronze
  • Length: 76 in.
  • 193 cm


Acquired from the artist in 1973


Herbert Read, Henry Moore. A Study of his Life and Work, London, 1965, no. 213, illustration of another cast p. 226
Ionel Jianou, Henry Moore, Paris, 1968, no. 436, illustration of another cast pl. 96
John Hedgecoe & Henry Moore, Henry Moore, London, 1968, illustrations of another cast pp. 338-41
Robert Melville, Henry Moore. Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, London, 1970, figs. 578-81, illustrations of another cast
Giulio Carlo Argan, Henry Moore, New York, 1971, illustrations in colour of another cast pls. 153 & 154
David Finn & Kenneth Clark, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Environment, London, 1977, illustrations of another cast pp. 138-43
David Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture, London, 1981, figs. 326-28, illustrations of another cast pp. 152-53
Alan Bowness (ed.). Henry Moore, Sculpture 1955-64, London, 1986, vol. 3, no. 457, illustrations of another cast pls. 90-93
Henry Moore & John Hedgecoe, Henry Moore. My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, London, 1986, no. 37, illustrations of another cast pp. 112 & 202
John Hedgecoe, A Monumental Vision. the Sculpture of Henry Moore, London, 1998, illustrations of another cast pp. 143-45
Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, London, 2003, illustration of another cast p. 327


Excellent condition. The bronze displays a highly textured surface with a dark brown patina with green undertones. No significant scratches, abrasions or areas of corrosion are evident on the surface. The bronze base displays tooling marks, fine scratches, tiny dents and divots that are surface irregularities that are inherent to the cast. The lifting holes on the front and backsides of the bronze base are exposed and not plugged. The foundry stamp and signature can be found on the bottom edge on the back of the PL figure. The sculpture is structurally sound.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The subject of the reclining figure, explored in this monumental work, is the dominant image of Henry Moore's production. Initially inspired by Mexican sculpture, this subject recurs throughout the artist’s career, ranging from organic forms to near-abstract, geometric ones, and including several monumental versions. Writing about Moore's large outdoor sculptures, David Sylvester commented: "They are made to look as if they themselves had been shaped by nature's energy. They seem to be weathered, eroded, tunnelled-into by the action of wind and water. The first time Moore published his thoughts about art, he wrote that the sculpture which moved him most gave out ‘something of the energy and power of great mountains’ […] Moore’s reclining figures are not supine; they prop themselves up, are potentially active. Hence the affinity with river-gods; the idea is not simply that of a body subjected to the flow of nature’s forces but of one in which those forces are harnessed’ (D. Sylvester, Henry Moore, New York & London, 1968, p. 5).

Although Moore had made sculptures consisting of more than one piece in the 1930s, Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 is the first large-scale work in which the torso is completely separate from the remainder of the figure. According to the artist’s own account, it was while working on this sculpture that he ‘realised what an advantage a separate two-piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape. Knees and breasts are mountains. Once these two parts become separated you don’t expect it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore, you can more justifiably make it like a landscape or a rock. If it is a single figure, you can guess what it’s going to be like. If it is in two pieces, there’s a bigger surprise, you have more unexpected views; therefore the special advantage over painting – of having the possibility of many different views – is more fully exploited’ (quoted in C. Lake, Atlantic Monthly, vol. 209, no. 1, Boston, January 1962, p. 44).

In splitting a reclining figure into two separate forms, Moore was able to explore multiple relationships, most importantly that between the male and the female figure, and that between man and environment. As the artist explained: ‘My “Two-Piece Reclining Figure Number One” of 1959 is a mixture of rock form and mountains combined with the human figure. I didn’t reason it out like this, but I think that this is the explanation. Breaking it in half made it a less obvious, a less realistic figure. In the maquette the leg and the head end were joined but when I came to enlarge the sculpture there was a stage when the junction between the leg and head didn’t seem necessary. Then I realised that dividing the figure into two parts made many more three-dimensional variations than if it had just been a monolithic piece. This was something I’d wanted to do in sculpture for a long time. It led on to several other two-piece sculptures and eventually to a three-piece one’ (quoted in J. Hedgecoe & H. Moore, op. cit., 1968, p. 338).

In 1959 Moore also executed a smaller version of this work, Maquette for Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 (A. Bowness (ed.), op. cit., no. 457a).   The present work, which was acquired by Mr. Embiricos directly from Moore, belongs to an edition of six bronzes cast by the Hermann Noack Foundry in Berlin.  Other casts of the monumental version of this work belong to City Art Museum, St. Louis; Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg; Hakone Open Air Museum and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo.