Lot 2
  • 2

Henry Moore

800,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
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  • Henry Moore
  • Maquette for King and Queen
  • bronze
  • height: 27cm.
  • 10 5/8 in.


Alan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago

Joseph R. Shapiro, Chicago

Grace Hokin, Palm Beach

Thomas Gibson Fine Art, London (acquired from the above)

Willy & Marina Staehelin-Peyer, Zurich (acquired from the above in 1976)

Thence by descent to the present owner


Herbert Read & Alan Bowness, Henry Moore. Sculpture and Drawings 1949-1954, London, 1965, vol. 2, no. 348, another cast illustrated pl. 79

John Hedgecoe & Henry Moore, Henry Spencer Moore, New York, 1968, another cast illustrated pp. 216 & 443

Ionel Jianou, Henry Moore, Paris, 1968, no. 319, catalogued p. 78

William S. Lieberman, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection, Masterpieces of Modern Art, New York, 1981, another cast illustrated in colour p. 144

Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore. Complete Sculpture, London, 1986, vol. 2, no. 348, another cast illustrated p. 48 & pl. 123

John Hedgecoe, Henry Moore. A Monumental Vision, Cologne, 2005, no. 321, another cast illustrated p. 216

This work is recorded in the archives of the Henry Moore Foundation under no. LH 348. 

Catalogue Note

The present work is the maquette for one of Moore’s most celebrated sculptures, the King and Queen. First conceived in 1952, the two figures are imbued with an ancient, otherworldly majesty that is closer to a primitive notion of kingship than a modern conception of royalty. Moore subsequently suggested that one inspiration for them had been an Egyptian limestone statue in the British Museum and the enigmatic quality of their mask-like faces certainly recalls ancient statuary.

The figures’ mystical quality was inherent in their making, a process which Moore described as part of an intuitive creative process: ‘Whilst manipulating a piece of this wax, it began to look like a horned, Pan-like, bearded head. Then it grew a crown and I recognised it immediately as the head of a king. I continued and gave it a body. When wax hardens, it is almost as strong as metal. I used this special strength to repeat in the body the aristocratic refinement I found in the head. Then I added a second figure to it and it became a ‘King and Queen’. I realise now that it was because I was reading stories to Mary, my six year old daughter, every night, and most of them were about kings and queens and princesses’ (quoted in John Hedgecoe & Henry Moore, op. cit., p. 221).

Moore deliberately juxtaposes the oneiric qualities of the figures’ heads with the greater naturalism of their bodies, and, as he explained, this combination is central to their significance: ‘When I came to do the hands and feet of the figures they gave me a chance to express my ideas further by making them more realistic – to bring out the contrast between human grace and the concept of power in primitive kingship’ (quoted in D. Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore, London, 1981, pp. 122-123).

The two figures are enclosed by a delicate frame that serves to define their relationship to the space around them as well as imbuing their modest bench with an august formality. In the final monumental version – cast the following year – this frame was omitted. As Moore explained: ‘In life size they didn’t need the reference to an upright and a horizontal, as the pose of each figure became obvious’ (quoted in John Hedgecoe, op. cit., p. 216).

The first full-size cast was made for the Middelheim Museum, Antwerp in 1953, and further casts are now in the collection of the Tate, London, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D. C., and the Glenkiln Sculpture Park in Dumfries, Scotland (fig. 1).