Lot 35
  • 35

Henry Moore

Estimate
80,000 - 120,000 GBP
Sold
245,000 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Henry Moore
  • Madonna and Child
  • inscribed Moore
  • bronze
bronze
height: 15.5cm.
Conceived circa 1945 and cast in bronze in an edition of 7.

Provenance

Mary Moore (the artist's daughter), Much Hadham

William Walton, England

Private Collection, England (by descent from the above)

Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London (acquired from the above)

Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1983)

Thence by descent to the present owners

Literature

David Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, London, 1957, vol. I, no. 225, terracotta version illustrated p. 138

Robert Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings, 1921-1969, London, 1970, no. 311, another cast illustrated

David Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture with Comments by the Artist, London, 1981, no. 157, another cast illustrated p. 91

Catalogue Note

The present work is one of the most elegant of Moore’s maquettes for a large scale commission which helped to define his output for many years. The spatial relationship between the mother and her child captured within the richly textured bronze draws its immediate appeal from the balance of playfulness and sanctity. In 1943 Moore was invited by his friend Dr Walter Hussey to create a sculpture of the Madonna and Child for St. Matthew’s Church at Northampton (fig. 1). Dr Hussey was at that time the Vicar of St. Matthew's, though he would later go on to become the Dean of Chichester Cathedral, and the first owner of the cast Falling Warrior which now forms part of this collection.

In discussing the commission for St. Mathew's Moore wrote: ‘When I was first asked to carve a Madonna and Child for St Matthew's, Northampton, although I was very interested I wasn’t sure whether I could do it, or whether I wanted to do it. One knows that religion has been the inspiration of most of Europe’s greatest painting and sculpture, and the church in the past has encouraged and employed the greatest artists; but the tradition of religious art seems to have got lost completely in the present day’. He goes on to further express his passion for the Mother and Child motif: ‘There are two particular motives or subjects which I constantly used in my sculpture in the last twenty years; they are the Reclining Figure idea and the Mother and Child idea. (Perhaps of the two the Mother and Child has been the more fundamental obsession.)’ (quoted in D. Mitchinson (ed.), op. cit., p. 90).

The essential importance of maternity within the history of art was extensively covered within Moore's œuvre, and although the specific theme of the Madonna is the most prevalent form found in European art, Moore's interest in the art of other cultures helps to lend a universality to his own work. The resulting group of sculptures on this theme is recognised as vitally important to understanding Moore's art. As Gail Gelburd commented: ‘The theme of mother and child, then, not only refers to the paternal relationships but is about fertility, maternity and growth – universal ideas… the mother and child motif goes beyond the image to a primal motif based on the theme of life and birth, for Moore it means creativity. The art is reminiscent of some of the earliest primitive images due to its conceptual base. Moore’s work is an attempt to get at the essential nature and to shape it from within… He breathes life and vitality into the inanimate object. The mother and child sculptures are not only a symbol of maternity but of creativity itself’ (G. Gelburd, Mother and Child: The Art of Henry Moore (exhibition catalogue), Hofstra Museum, Hofstra University, New York, 1987, p. 27).

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