An artist that had historically favoured direct carving in stone and wood Moore came to fully realise and appreciate the advantages that plaster offered in the 1950s, making the Rocking Chair plasters some of the earliest fully realised plaster sculptures. The material had the great advantage of being able to be both carved and modelled, and then once set the surface could be worked (just as it could with stone and wood) and later coloured. Instead of the fresh, bright white that casting typically resulted in, Moore coloured his plasters with toned shellac made from walnut oil that was so reminiscent of his fascination with found natural objects including bones and pebbles.
Made in the early 1950s, originally intended as ‘toys’ for his young daughter Mary, the Rocking Chair series (see lot 17) capture Moore’s acute skill as a sculptor, made even more discernible through this, the original plaster for the third of the four rocking chairs. Rocking Chair No.3 showcases Moore’s working of the plaster surface, carefully scored and texture, but also the process that casting in bronze involved. Cast in sections, the present work shows the mother figure armless, with the baby cast separately. With these rocking chairs Moore paid close attention to the speed at which the sculptures rock and this would have been worked out through this, the original plaster from which the series of six were later cast. The present work offers a fascinating insight into Moore’s working practise and also displays the care and attention that he paid to his plasters, which rarely appear on the open market.
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