Lot 17
  • 17

HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. | Rocking Chair No. 2

800,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
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  • Moore
  • Rocking Chair No. 2
  • stamped with foundry mark
  • bronze
  • height: 28cm.; 11in.
  • Conceived in 1950, the present work is from the edition of 6 cast by the Valsuani Foundry, Paris.


Acquired by the family of the present owners by 1962


London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Henry Moore: an Exhibition of Sculptures 1950-1960, November 1960 - January 1961, cat. no.1 (another cast);
Bradford, Art Galleries & Museum, Henry Moore 80th Birthday Exhibition, 1st April - 25th June 1978, cat. no.63, illustrated (another cast);
London, Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd, Henry Moore 80/80, 1978, un-numbered exhibition (another cast);
Madrid, Palacio de Velàzquez, Palacio de Cristal, Parque El Retiro, Henry Moore: Sculptures, Drawings, Graphics, 1921-1981, May - August 1981, cat. no.199, illustrated (another cast);
Caracas, Museo de Arte Contemporàneo de Caracas, Henry Moore, March 1983, cat. no.E67, illustrated (another cast);
London, Royal Academy, Henry Moore, September - December 1988, cat. no.109, p.225, illustrated p.88 (another cast);
Petrodvorets, Benois Museum, Henry Moore: The Human Dimension, 17th June - 15th August 1991, cat. no.64, p.89 (another cast), with tour to Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, Moscow;
Leeds, Henry Moore Institute, Sculptures in the Home Re-Staging A Post-War Initiative, 2nd October 2008 - 4th January 2009, illustrated on the cover (another cast);
London, Tate, Henry Moore, 24th February- 8th August 2010, cat. no.127, illustrated (another cast).


William Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, Thames and Hudson, London, 1960, p.7, illustrated pl.113 (another cast);
Robert Melville, Henry Moore, Sculptures and Drawings 1921-1969, Abrams Inc., London, 1970, p.52, cat. no.399, illustrated (another cast);
Alan Bowness, (ed.), Henry Moore, Complete Sculptures: 1949-54, Vol.2, Lund Humphries, London, 1986, cat. no.275, p.28, illustrated pl.15 (another cast).


The sculpture appears structurally sound. There are some old historic signs of light rubbing to the patina. There is an extremely tiny instance of very light oxidisation to the side of the base. There are traces of light surface dirt and matter in keeping with age. Subject to the above, the work appears in excellent overall condition. The work is freestanding. Please telephone the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Sold together with a copy of a letter from the Artist to the family of the present owners, dated 18th December 1963.

‘The rocking chair sculptures were done for my daughter Mary, as toys which actually rock. I discovered while doing them that the speed of the rocking depended on the curvature of the base and the disposition of the weights and balances of the sculpture, so each of them rocks at a different speed.’
(Henry Moore, quoted in John Hedgecoe and Henry Moore, Henry Moore, Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, London, 1968, p.178).

The Mother and Child subject was to be one of the most important and broad-reaching motifs of Moore’s career, and one which, from the mid-1940s, dominated his output for much of the following decade. Following a number of small Family Group studies made in the late 1940s, from 1947 Moore began to explore this theme through a new motif – the Rocking Chairs. Between 1950 and 1952 Moore produced four varying versions of the subject in bronze, based on a series of drawings made within his Rocking Chair Notebook (1947-48) such as Rocking Chairs: Ideas for Metal Sculpture, (1948, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Fig.1), and subsequent maquettes in plaster (see lot 21), which remain some of the most important and personal sculptures of his oeuvre.

The concept of the sculptures – the only kinetic pieces produced during his life – have their immediate origin in the idea of making a sculpture with movement for his young daughter Mary. An only child, Mary was born in 1946 after sixteen years of marriage and was, as Roger Berthoud writes, ‘in every sense a precious baby’ (Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, E. P. Dutton, New York, 1987, p.197). Photographs show Moore doting on his young daughter and the fact that these works were conceived with her in mind makes them all the more personal and important. The four bronzes (No.1, No.2, No.3 all similar in size and produced in an edition of six, and the fourth, Rocking Chair No.4 – miniature produced on a smaller scale in an edition of nine) capture a heart-felt intimacy between mother and baby, and the great sense of joy and delight that parenthood brings, and clearly brought for Moore and his wife. These are sculptures that truly sing with a sense of heart-felt fun, aided further by their movement. The works lack any sense of formality, with naturalistically rendered children balancing precariously on the knees of their mother (as in the present work), or being thrown in the air (see Rocking Chair No.3, a version of which was sold in these rooms as part of the Evill/Frost Collection in 2011 for £2,505,250).

The Rocking Chair bronzes also showcase Moore’s continued exploration of the human form, with gentle variations appearing throughout the works. In Rocking Chair No.2, the present cast of which was acquired by the family of the present owners by 1962, the chair on which the mother sits is the most complete of the group, with a pierced back. By No.3 the woman’s body and chair have merged, with a central piercing balancing the raised baby. The mother’s head also differs, with No.2 producing a strikingly beautiful silhouette with gently curling ringlets, the likes of which can be seen in photographs of Moore’s wife Irina of this period. The intimacy of these works offer a fascinating autobiographical insight into the life of one of the most important sculptors of the past century, and are, without doubt, some of the most personal and engaging depictions of the mother and child that the artist created throughout his entire career.