Lot 21
  • 21

Henry Moore

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
730,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Henry Moore
  • Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone Skirt
  • Inscribed Moore and numbered 9/9
  • Bronze
  • Length: 27 in.
  • 68.6 cm


Alexander Rosenberg, New York

John Kluge, New York & Charlottesville (sold: Christie's, New York, May 8, 1991, lot 54)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Alan Bowness, Henry Moore, The Complete Sculpture, 1974-1980, vol. 5, London, 1999, no. 723, illustrations of other casts pp. 34 & 124-25

Catalogue Note

The reclining figure, explored in this elegant work from the late 1970s, is among the most important themes of Henry Moore's oeuvre.  Initially inspired by Mexican sculpture, this subject recurs throughout the artist's career, ranging from organic forms to near-abstract, geometric ones, and including several monumental versions.  Writing about Moore's large outdoor sculptures, David Sylvester commented:  "They are made to look as if they themselves had been shaped by nature's energy.  They seem to be weathered, eroded, tunnelled-into by the action of wind and water.  The first time Moore published his thoughts about art, he wrote that the sculpture which moved him most gave out 'something of the energy and power of great mountains' [...] Moore's reclining figures are not supine; they prop themselves up, are potentially active.  Hence the affinity with river-gods; the idea is not simply that of a body subjected to the flow of nature's forces but of one in which those forces are harnessed" (D. Sylvester, Henry Moore, New York and London, 1968, p. 5).

In this variant of the reclining figure, draped with what Moore has titled a 'bone skirt,' the woman appears anchored to the ground by the rigid slope of her legs.  It is this ambiguity between the soft folds of the fabric, mostly accentuated around the legs, and the strong, solid forms of the figure's body, that lends the work much of its vitality.  It was whilst working on his Shelter Drawings during the Second World War that Moore became increasingly absorbed in the manner in which drapery could denote sculptural volume.  The three-dimensional effect achieved by the folds in a figure's garment is in part inspired by the sculpture and reliefs from Classical antiquity, particularly some of the Parthenon figures. 

David Sylvester considered Moore's use of drapery as a method of further integrating his figures into the landscape.  The artist used "the folds to create a variant of the metaphor of the figure as a landscape... to connect the contrasts of sizes of folds, small, fine and delicate, in other places big and heavy, with the form of mountains, which are the crinkled skin of the earth" (ibid., p. 109).  With its permanence and solidity, the female figure in the present sculpture appears close to the earth, and the mountainous force described by Sylvester can be seen in the triangular shape of her legs.  With her backwards gaze and her monumental, dignified head looking into infinity, the figure acquires a timeless quality, symbolizing the eternal expanse of the universe and man's presence in it.

The present work was cast in an edition of 9 plus one artist's proof.