The seated figure as a theme emerged as part of Moore’s commission to make a sculpture to sit outside UNESCO’s headquarters. The project presented Moore with a particular sculptural conundrum that he initially tried to solve using his usual configurations of family groups or solo female figures. While he found the eventual solution in the highly abstracted form of a reclining female figure, numerous maquettes show that he had seriously considered using a seated figure such as the present work.
Discussing Seated Woman, Moore recalled a memory of his own mother: “Seated Woman, particularly her back view, kept reminding me of my mother, whose back I used to rub as a boy when she was suffering from rheumatism. She had a strong, solid figure, and I remember, as I massaged her with some embarrassment, the sensation it gave me going across her shoulder blades and then down and across the backbone. I had the sense of an expanse of flatness yet within it a hard projection of bone” (quoted in Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London, 1960, p. 329).
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