Lot 53
  • 53

Henry Moore

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
989,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Henry Moore
  • Reclining Figure: Circle
  • signed Moore and numbered 3/9
  • bronze


Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London

Private Collection, California

Scott White Contemporary, San Diego

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1980-86, London, 1988, vol. VI, no. 903, illustrations of another cast p. 60 & pls. 128-130 

Catalogue Note

Reclining Figure: Circle is an impressive and important example of Moore’s late work. It takes the form of a reclining figure, but the almost complete abstraction of the subject and absence of anatomical detail, marks it out as one of the most innovative sculptures that Moore produced on that iconic theme. Moore explained that: ‘Sculpture, for me, must have life in it, vitality. It must have a feeling for organic form, a certain pathos and warmth. Purely abstract sculpture seems to me to be an activity that would be better fulfilled in another art, such as architecture. That is why I have never been tempted to remain a purely abstract sculptor… A sculpture must have its own life. Rather than give the impression of a smaller object carved out of a bigger block, it should make the observer feel that what he is seeing contains within itself its own organic energy thrusting outwards - if a work of sculpture has its own life and form, it will be alive and expansive, seeming larger than the stone or wood from which it is carved. It should always give the impression, whether carved or modelled, of having grown organically, created by pressure from within’ (quoted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore, Writings and Conversations, Berkley & Los Angeles, 2002, p. 199).

The fulcrum of the work is a dynamically hollowed circular channel that shows the artist’s interest in the three-dimensional representation of organic form. This piercing is emphasised by the rhythmic arches created by the points of contact between the figure and the base. The artist developed this idea in the 1930s when carving stone figures. These sculptures frequently incorporated cavities or hollows which represented the contrast between form and void, therefore making the viewer aware of the space itself becoming part of the sculpture.

The subject of the reclining figure is probably the single most important image of Henry Moore’s œuvre. Initially inspired by Mexican sculpture, this theme recurs throughout the artist’s career, ranging from organic forms to near-abstract, geometric ones. Christa Lichtenstern wrote about Moore’s continuous treatment of this motif, which he called an ‘absolute obsession’: ‘The reclining figure […] formed a kind of vessel into which Moore poured his most important poetic, compositional, formal and spatial discoveries. The farthest-reaching developments in his art are thus reflected in such figures. In the early period, they demonstrated his belief in the doctrine of direct carving. Later, they embodied his espousal of the surrealist emotionalisation of figure and space. And finally, they became a focus for the analogies between figure and landscape […]. One further innovation explored in the context of this basic theme was the artist’s discovery of rhythm as a constituent force in the generation of form’ (C. Lichtenstern, Henry Moore: Work – Theory – Impact, London, 2008, p. 95).