Lot 106
  • 106

Henry Moore

250,000 - 350,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Henry Moore
  • Three Figures: Internal/External Forms 
  • Signed Moore and dated 48. (lower left) 
  • Watercolor, wax crayon, colored crayon, ink wash and pen and ink on paper 
  • 19 3/8 by 19 3/8 in.
  • 49 by 49 cm


Mr. & Mrs. H. Gates Lloyd, Philadelphia
Private Collection 


Ann Garrould, ed., Henry Moore, Complete Drawings 1930-39, vol. 3, London, 1998, no. AG 48.8, illustrated p. 279

Catalogue Note

The present work is a study for a series of hollow-figure sculptures conceived between 1951 and 1954 and titled Upright Internal/External Forms. Executed in 1948, Three Figures: Internal/External Forms was completed just after World War II, a period when Moore devoted most of his time to drawing images of those displaced in the London Underground. While these resulting works on paper were a form of documentation, the celebrated “Shelter” drawings and the “Figures in a Setting” drawings of the 1940s have come to be viewed as the chief medium through which Moore studied the structure of objects and the nature of their forms, charting various possibilities of creating new shapes.

In the present drawing, three hollow forms are seen in a group; huge apertures in their bodies reveal struts and stays that suggest a biological mechanism at work in the interior. Their shapes are at once both abstract and figurative. As Kenneth Clark describes, “They achieve a remarkable reality, so that, when they walk about in pairs, we feel that they are conversing on the way to market. Moore seems to have created a credible alternative to the human race, as if millions of years ago, evolution had taken a different course. The strange fact is that, although these figures were invented in 1940, they did not appear in sculpture until 1951” (Kenneth Clark, “Dramatis Personae” in Henry Moore Drawings, London, 1974, p. 114).

Such figures represent a motif that reappears in numerous drawings for sculptures created in the 1940s, but the full fruition of this particular endeavor was not realized until 1951 when Moore carved the first of the Upright Internal/External Forms in wood (see fig. 1 for the bronze version). As Clark continues, “That Moore first carved this idea in wood is one of those chances that is not an accident, because the internal-external forms, in addition to their biological and psychological implications, are examples of his responsiveness to nature. The apertures and caves of a hollow tree, however familiar they may become, never quite lose the mystery that they held for us in our childhood. That the internal-external figures are, to some extent, inspired by hollow trees, is clear enough in the early drawings of the motif, where the edge of the aperture has the gratifying bluntness of wood” (ibid., p. 119). These extraordinary figures ultimately led to the conception of several radical sculptures which were seemingly brought to life by the “organs” in their shells.