Private Collection, Great Britain
Lefevre Gallery, London
Fischer Fine Art, London
Private Collection, South Africa
Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1978)
Thence by descent to the present owners
Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore: Complete Drawings, London, 2001, vol. 3, no. AG 48.29, illustrated p. 284; illustrated in colour pl. XXXII
In September 1919, equipped with his de-mobilisation papers and an ex-serviceman’s financial grant, Moore started his training as an artist at the Leeds School of Art. Rigorous academic techniques were applied to all the students’ classes at Leeds, including life drawing and the study of antique casts. Moore flourished even amidst the staid atmosphere of this most traditional school, and was able to successfully apply for a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Art in London. However, perhaps due to this traditional artistic education, drawing remained a fundamentally important part of the artist’s work. Indeed, Moore stated: ‘In my opinion, long and intense study of the human figures is the necessary foundation for a sculptor’ (quoted in The Drawing of Henry Moore (exhibition catalogue), Tate Gallery, London, 1977, p. 9).
Two Women and Child represents the highly important technical and stylistic developments which Moore developed in the 1940s. During the Second World War Moore became engaged in what is arguably his greatest and certainly his most publically recognised achievement as a draughtsman - the Shelter and Coal-Mine drawings of 1940 and 1942 - which were executed in the London Underground and the pits at Castleford in Yorkshire. The artist continued to improve these techniques in the latter half of the decade when he returned to his definitive subject – the Mother and Child. In works such as the magnificent Two Women and Child, Moore composed groups of figures either engaged in domestic activities or posed as family groups as both preparatory drawings for sculptures and as works in their own right. According to the catalogue raisonné, the intricately executed and stylised heads of the women may have been influenced by carved masks from Africa and the Marquesas Islands, often decorated with incisions, which Moore began collecting in the late 1940s. Two Women and Child exemplifies the richly hued, densely worked drawings that rendered the physicality of the figures so completely that they possess a sculptural quality all of their own.
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