Lot 9
  • 9

HENRY MOORE, O.M., C.H. Upright Internal/External Form: Flower

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
250,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Moore
  • Upright Internal/External Form: Flower
  • signed and numbered 1/6 on the base
  • bronze


Marlborough Fine Art, London, where acquired by the family of the present owner in 1965, and thence by descent to the present owner


London, Marlborough Fine Art, Henry Moore, July - August 1965, cat. no.1;
Paris, Didier Imbert Fine Art, Henry Moore - Intime, 1991-92, with tour to Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, un-numbered exhibition, illustrated p.81 (another cast);
Madrid, Palacio de Velazquez, Palacio Cristal and Parque de El Retiro, Henry Moore: Sculpture, Drawings and Graphics 1921-1981, British Council, 20th May - 25th July 1981, cat. no.239, with tour to Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon and Miro Foundation, Barcelona (another cast).


Robert Melville, Henry Moore, Sculpture and Drawings 1921-1969, Abrams, Inc., New York, 1971, cat. no.422, illustrated (another cast);
David Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture: With Comments by the Artist, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1981, cat. no.239, illustrated p.119 (another cast);
Alan Bowness (ed.) Henry Moore, Complete Sculpture, 1949-54, Vol. 2, Lund Humphries, London, 1986, cat. no.293b, illustrated pp.34-5 (another cast).

Catalogue Note

‘Sculpture for me must have life in it, vitality ... It must have a feeling for organic form, a certain pathos and warmth’

(Henry Moore, interview with E. Roditi, Dialogues on Art, Santa Barbara, 1980, p.195).

Conceived in 1951 Upright Internal/External Form: Flower is one of Moore’s most fully realised sculptures demonstrating his interest in the relationship between internal and external forms. Moore recognised a need to open up his work and create forms within forms, which relate to each other as part of the organic whole. In this dynamic work, Moore has opened up the external element of the sculpture so that the interior can be glimpsed – not fully, but in tantalising fragments. A smooth upright cocoon with a beautiful mottled brown patina envelops the inner form – a delicate slender stem with a flower-like bud, which seems to quiver, gently pushing forth as if reaching for the outside world and squeezing out of its protective enclosure. Moore, in undated working notes, wrote of the vitality he wanted to create in his works: the sense of ‘Force, Power, made by forms straining or pressing from inside’ (Henry Moore quoted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore, Writings and Conversations, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2002, p.205). By opening up this work Moore lays bare the potent force of this internal form. Moore explained further how he saw his sculptures, which explore this theme as ‘a sort of embryo being protected by an outer form, a mother and child idea, or the stamen in a flower, something young and growing being protected by an outer shell’ (Henry Moore, letter to Gordon Smith, 1955, quoted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), op. cit., 2002, p.277). This sculpture is considered one of the most organic treatments of this theme, evoking plant, rather than human, form.

The relationship between interior and exterior forms had preoccupied Moore since visits to the British Museum in the early 1930s. Later he would remember the influence of the Malanggan figurative carvings he saw there: ‘New Ireland carvings like this made a tremendous impression on me through their use of forms within a form. I realised what a sense of mystery could be achieved by having the inside partly hidden, so that you have to move around the sculpture to understand it. I was also staggered by the craftsmanship needed to make these interior carvings’ (Henry Moore at the British Museum, New York, 1981, p.81). His first sculpture exploring this theme was realised as early as the late 1930s with The Helmet (1939-40, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art), a lead work in which a figure is enclosed within the form of a helmet, inspired by the armour he saw at the Wallace Collection: ‘…the interior of the helmet is really a figure and the outside casing of it is like the armour by which it might be protected in battle. I suppose in my mind was also the Mother and Child idea and of birth and the child in embryo. All these things are connected in this interior and exterior idea’ (quoted in John Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1968, p.198). 

However, the genesis of this sculpture is witnessed most obviously in Moore’s drawings of the 1940s (see lot 8). The standing hollow figures with large apertures in their bodies reveal underlying structures and even some of the shelter drawings with their use of blankets as an outer form covering huddled figures in the underground stations reflect Moore’s preoccupation with outer and inner forms, and a fascination with the way one form could offer protection to another (see Two Mothers Holding Children, 1941, Collection Fundacion Coleccion Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid).

After the War, the theme became more prominent in his drawings and it is evident that Moore was developing the concept of larger standing forms in works such as Three Figures: Internal/External Forms, 1948, which sold in these rooms in 2014 for $605,000. These drawings indicate that Moore had clear conceptions of these forms as three-dimensional sculptures, but interestingly it was not until 1951 with the present work, Upright Internal/External Form: Flower, that the themes in these drawings were fully explored in bronze. The present work was the first of a series of sculptures exploring the concept: the same year, Moore conceived the maquette for Upright Internal/External Form (HMF 294). The Elm version of this work, realised later in 1953-4, is over two metres high and resides at the Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo.