Lot 1
  • 1

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H.

50,000 - 80,000 GBP
50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Henry Moore, O.M., C.H.
  • Nine Helmet Heads
  • signed and dated 50.; inscribed on the reverse
  • pencil, chalk, wax crayon and watercolour on paper


Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York, where acquired by the family of the present owner, June 1960


Cincinnati, The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati Art Museum, Rental Gallery, 1956 (as Heads #1, details untraced).


Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore Complete Drawings 1940-49, Vol. 3, The Henry Moore Foundation in Association with Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2001, cat. no.AG 48.6, illustrated p.279 (dated 1948).

Catalogue Note

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 taught in 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 Arts in London. Perhaps due to this traditional artistic education, drawing always remained a fundamentally important part of the artist’s work and is appreciated in its own right. The drawings with their distinctive earthy palette and heavy strokes delineating the forms remain entirely unique and idiosyncratic. More remarkable is his application of wax crayon with watercolour or wash, which results in a weighty, tactile texture reminiscent of weathered organic surfaces, entirely befitting of an artist whose sculptural eye is sensitively trained to the effects of light and shadow across a surface.

As a consummate and innovative draughtsman, Moore believed that a sculptor’s drawings should, through the suggestion of background and evocation of atmosphere, be more than mere diagrammatic studies. Many of these drawings were preliminary to sculptures, ‘a means of generative ideas for sculptures, tapping oneself for the initial idea; and as a way of sorting out ideas and developing them’ (Henry Moore, ‘The Sculptor Speaks, The Listener, 18th August 1937, quoted in David Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1948, Lund Humphries, London, 1957, Vol. I, p.xxxv).

The scale alone of the three works offered in this sale precludes them from being considered as studies from the sketchbook, not to mention their state of completion and overall effect. As a group, the three works each represent an important motif of the artist’s work – the seated female figure (lot 2), who is the basis and foundation of his Mother and Child and Family Groups, the stylised heads (lot 1) which may have been influenced by the carved masks from Africa and the Marquesas Islands which Moore collected, and the standing figures (lot 3) which, after many years of careful deliberation, resulted in his series of Upright Internal / External Forms, the first of which was executed in wood in 1951. Kenneth Clark remarked on the particular effect of the standing figure drawings: ‘They achieve a remarkable reality, so that, when they walk about in pairs, we feel that they are conversing on the way to market. Moore seems to have created a credible alternative to the human race, as if millions of years ago, evolution had taken a different course. The strange fact is that, although these figures were invented in 1940, they did not appear in sculpture until 1951’ (‘Dramatis Personae’, in Kenneth Clark, Henry Moore Drawings, Thames and Hudson, London, 1974, p.114). Moore’s drawings reveal him to be a prolific and dedicated artist whose careful and intense studies of the human form were essential to the huge strides he made in creating impactful Modernist sculpture.