Moore, Henry Spencer (1898–1986), sculptor
by Alan Wilkinson

Moore, Henry Spencer (1898–1986), sculptor, was born on 30 July 1898 at 30 Roundhill Road, Castleford, Yorkshire, the fourth son and seventh of the eight children of Raymond Spencer Moore (1849–1922), miner, and his wife, Mary (1858–1944), daughter of Neville Baker, miner, of Burntwood, Staffordshire.

Early life

Raymond Moore was born in the county of Lincolnshire. A self-improving man, with an interest in music and literature, he had taught himself enough mathematics and engineering to qualify as a pit deputy, and later as an under-manager at the Wheldale colliery in Castleford. Moore's father, proud, conscientious, and fiercely ambitious for his children, was determined that they should not ‘have the suffering, the drawbacks and the restricted life he'd had, and he saw that we didn't’ (Berthoud, 22). Moore's relationship with his strict, authoritarian father—who showed no outward signs of warmth and affection towards his children—was one of respect rather than of mutual love.

Mary Moore was a handsome woman of remarkable character, humorous, affectionate, and with tremendous physical stamina. Moore later commented: ‘She was to me the absolute stability, the rock, the whole thing in life that one knew was there for one's protection’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 33). Of the many anecdotes about his childhood, one of the best-known was Moore's account of one of his earliest and most significant sculptural experiences. His mother suffered from severe rheumatism of the back and he would often massage her back with liniment. He never forgot the contrast between the soft, yielding, fleshy parts of the back and the hard framework of bone beneath. Moore always explained his preference in his sculpture for matronly women by his relationship with his mother.

Moore's childhood was happy, full of physical exercise, games, and excursions to the surrounding countryside. The most impressive element of landscape which he experienced as a boy was Adel Rock (as he later called it), an enormous outcrop of rock, part of Alwoodley Crags, some 5 miles north of Leeds.
For me, it was the first big, bleak lump of stone set in the landscape and surrounded by marvellous gnarled prehistoric trees. It had no feature of recognition, no element of copying of naturalism, just a bleak, powerful form, very impressive. (Henry Moore: Writings, 36)
Moore's schooling began at the age of three when he attended the infants' section of Temple Street elementary school; he transferred to the main section of the school when he was eight. He and his siblings were baptized and brought up in the Church of England, though his parents were not regular churchgoers. At fifteen or sixteen Moore was confirmed and experienced a strong religious phase, which was short-lived. Earlier, at about ten or eleven years old, while attending Sunday school, at the nearby Congregational chapel, an episode occurred which in later life Moore recounted in countless interviews and conversations, when he was asked when exactly he had decided to become a sculptor. The Sunday school superintendent would end the class with a moral story, and one such self-improving tale concerned Michelangelo; however, it was not the moral of the story which stuck in Moore's mind, but the description of Michelangelo as ‘the greatest sculptor who ever lived’ (Berthoud, 26). Moore returned home, read the entry on Michelangelo in the encyclopaedia his father had given him, and from that day forward, he always maintained, when asked what he wanted to be, he replied ‘a sculptor’.

In 1910 Moore was accepted at Castleford secondary school, having been awarded, at his second attempt, a county minor scholarship. There he encountered two mentors, the headmaster, T. R. Dawes, and Alice Gostick, the art teacher. One of Dawes's interests was English church architecture, and it was probably with him, rather than on a visit with his family, that Moore came to appreciate the grotesque Gothic corbels and the two effigies in St Oswald's Church, Methley. Dawes also saw to it that every pupil participated in the school plays, which always included something from Shakespeare. This whetted Moore's appetite for theatre, and a few years later, probably in 1916, Moore wrote Narayana and Bhataryan, a play influenced by the orientalism of James Elroy Flecker. The most influential figure in Moore's formative years as a student was undoubtedly Alice Gostick. Gostick was in touch with the work of the European avant-garde and, when invited to her house for Sunday tea, Moore could browse through her art books and current copies of such magazines as Colour and Studio. Some years later he joined her evening pottery classes. He explored his artistic potential under her guidance and their affectionate friendship lasted until her death in 1960.

When Moore completed his five years as a student at Castleford in July 1915 and said that he wanted to become a sculptor, his father disapproved and advised, Henry recalled: ‘First become qualified as a teacher like your brother and sisters have done and then change to art if you wish. Be sure that you have some living in your hand’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 31). Moore became a student teacher at his old elementary school in Castleford; he later described his first teaching experience as the most miserable period of his life. In 1916 he was asked to carve the Castleford secondary school roll of honour, using Alice Gostick's wood-carving tools.

War service and the Leeds School of Art

In February 1917 Moore left home and joined the Civil Service Rifles as a volunteer. It was probably in mid-August 1917 that Private H. S. Moore was sent to France for training in trench warfare near Arras. On 30 November Moore and some 400 men of the Civil Service Rifles were gassed at Bourlon Wood in the battle of Cambrai and then subjected to a major German assault. The losses were appalling and Moore was fortunate to survive. He was sent back to England as a stretcher case and spent the next six weeks or so recuperating at the Lansdowne Road Hospital in Cardiff. After further convalescence he volunteered for a course in physical training at Aldershot where as a lance-corporal he qualified as a bayonet instructor. As a teacher Moore was entitled to early demobilization, and returned to Castleford in February 1919. Both in his letters from the battlefield and particularly in his descriptions of his experiences many years later, Moore almost always conveyed the impression that the conflict was little more than a glorified, romantic adventure. But in a letter to a friend, written in 1919 or 1920, he did describe the horrors of war. If God were ‘Almighty’, he wrote, ‘the things I saw & experienced, the great bloodshed & the pain, the insufferable agony & depravity, the tears & the inhuman devilishness of the war, would, could never have been’ (letter, Sothebys, London, 15 Dec 1988, English Literature and History, lot 242, catalogue, p. 182). Late in life, he summed up his attitude very differently: ‘I was not horrified by the war, I wanted to win a medal and be a hero’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 40).

In March 1919 Moore briefly resumed teaching at Temple Street elementary school, but with the help of Alice Gostick he successfully applied for an ex-serviceman's grant, and was accepted at the Leeds School of Art for the autumn term. Within his first year there, Moore managed to complete the two-year drawing course. The curriculum included architectural drawing and drawing from memory, from life, and from the antique.

On his first day at college Moore met fellow student Raymond Coxon, who became a lifelong friend. At the end of the first year of the drawing course, Moore and Coxon won a third of the prizes for the nine categories of drawing. Edna Ginesi, known as ‘Gin’, was another student whom Henry met during his first year. He later fell in love with her, but Gin was in love with Coxon, whom she married in 1926. In the autumn of 1920 Barbara Hepworth arrived at the Leeds School of Art. Moore was rather ‘sweet on her’ and they had ‘a bit of an affair’ (private information), which was probably nothing more than a mild flirtation. Their friendship flourished for the next two decades, from 1921 to 1924 when they were students together at the Royal College of Art in London, and in the 1930s when they were living in close proximity in Hampstead.

During his second year at Leeds, Moore asked Hayward Ryder, the principal, if he could study sculpture. Reginald Cotterill was hired to set up a department with Moore as its only full-time student. As carving was not taught, Moore concentrated on modelling in clay. The two small painted plasters now in the Leeds City Art Gallery are his earliest surviving sculptures. At the end of that year Moore won a royal exhibition scholarship worth £90 a year, which enabled him to achieve his goal, entrance to the Royal College of Art in London.

Two encounters during his two years of study in Leeds had far more impact than the academic courses at college on forging and shaping Moore's imagination. At the home of Sir Michael Sadler, vice-chancellor of Leeds University, Moore saw for the first time original examples of modern art, and was particularly excited by the work of Gauguin and Van Gogh. Here he also saw his first examples of African sculpture. The second event was Moore's discovery in 1921 of Roger Fry's Vision and Design (1920), arguably the most influential book in shaping his ideas about sculpture during his formative years, particularly the chapters entitled ‘Negro sculpture’ and ‘Ancient American art’. Fry praised African sculptors for conceiving fully three-dimensional forms, and for their handling of material. What Moore later called ‘full three-dimensional realisation’, and the doctrine of truth to material were the two most important tenets of his art during the 1920s and 1930s. Moore later acknowledged his debt to Fry, and said that he ‘opened the way to other books and to the realisation of the British Museum. That was really the beginning’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 44).


Moore arrived in London in September 1921 to begin the three-year course in sculpture at the Royal College of Art. William Rothenstein, who had been appointed principal the previous year, had lived in Paris and brought a fresh international outlook to what had become primarily a teachers' training college. He gave Moore the same kind of encouragement and support that Alice Gostick had offered during the previous decade.

From the outset Moore recognized the importance of an academic training based on drawing and modelling from life. The sculptor Leon Underwood, the drawing instructor at the Royal College of Art, was passionate about life drawing. Moore was so impressed with Underwood's teaching that he later attended his life drawing class at his studio in Hammersmith. As a student, Moore was leading a double life: drawing and modelling from the nude model at college, with the weekends and holidays free to develop what appealed to him in sculpture, constantly nourished by the books he had bought and by those he borrowed from the library of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and above all by his frequent visits to the British Museum. ‘One room after another in the British Museum took my enthusiasm’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 45), Moore commented in 1947. It was a period when he thought that the classical/Renaissance ideal was the enemy and that he should look to non-Western traditions and ‘primitive’ art for inspiration. At the British Museum Moore was drawn to Egyptian, Assyrian, and Sumerian sculpture, as well as prehistoric European and archaic Greek sculpture. But above all he was excited by the ethnographical gallery, with its profusion of African, Oceanic, North-West Coast, Inuit, and pre-Columbian carvings. Pre-Columbian stone sculpture was by far the most important influence on Moore's early carvings, from the 1924 marble Snake (priv. coll.) to the 1930 Hornton stone Reclining Woman (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). The notebook drawings of the early to mid-1920s record the sculptures and artefacts in the British Museum, and those illustrated in some of the earliest books on primitive art, which Moore particularly admired.

In 1921, during their first term at the Royal College of Art, Moore and Raymond Coxon visited Jacob Epstein, the leading avant-garde sculptor in Britain. They must have seen his superb collection of African, Oceanic, and north-west coast art, as well as works from other non-Western cultures and traditions—pre-Columbian, Peruvian, Egyptian, and Chinese sculpture. Moore would also have seen examples of Epstein's stone carvings of 1912–13 and experienced for the first time the blatant borrowings from primitive art of the sort which were to inform his own wood and stone sculptures of the 1920s. That Moore does not appear to have mentioned this visit—he recalled that he met Epstein about 1928—is in keeping with ‘an almost compulsive need to ablate the memory of those artists [his contemporaries] who had significant short-range influence upon him’ (Fuller, 26).

Both the sculpture and writings of the French-born sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska made a considerable impact on several of Moore's carvings from the early 1920s and on his ideas about sculpture. Ezra Pound's Gaudier-Brzeska: a Memoir (1916), which Moore probably read in 1921 or 1922, left, like Fry's Vision and Design, an indelible impression. His marble Dog (1922; Henry Moore Foundation) is distinctly reminiscent of Gaudier-Brzeska's Vorticist sculptures of 1913–14, and his comment that the sculpture that moved him most gives out ‘something of the energy and power of great mountains’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 188) seems unmistakably to echo the French sculptor's most famous dictum: ‘Sculptural energy is the mountain’.

At Whitsun 1922, Moore and Raymond Coxon decided to go to Paris to see some original Cézannes. Rothenstein suggested they visit the collection of Auguste Pellerin, who owned more than one hundred works by the French artist. Moore was bowled over by the monumental Large Bathers of 1906 (Philadelphia Museum of Art). Years later he described the tremendous impact of ‘the triangular bathing composition with the nudes in perspective, lying on the ground as if they'd been sliced out of mountain rock’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 50).

Moore was awarded his diploma from the Royal College of Art at the end of the summer term of 1924 and received a six-month travelling scholarship to be spent in Italy studying the old masters. He planned to set off in the autumn; however, the resignation of Derwent Wood, professor of sculpture, and his assistant led to Rothenstein appointing Moore as assistant in the sculpture department for a period of seven years. The salary of £240 a year for teaching two days a week gave him the freedom to pursue his career, and financial security. At the outset Moore enjoyed his teaching: ‘I remember I used to be very surprised quite often at the things I discovered while teaching, the actual sentences I used’ (Berthoud, 87), but after a few years he found the repetition of his beliefs a deadening thing. Moore was now living at 3 Grove Studios, Hammersmith, which he shared with Raymond Coxon.

When Ernest Cole was hired to replace Wood as professor of sculpture, Moore set off for Italy in early February 1925. He spent about a week in Paris en route for Italy. He visited the Louvre, where he particularly admired the work of Mantegna, but he was most excited by the Indian sculptures he saw at the Musée Guimet. He visited Genoa, Pisa, and Rome before settling in Florence some time before 12 March, when he wrote to Rothenstein giving an account of his travels and his reactions to the work of the Italian masters. Among the painters, Giotto and Masaccio made the biggest impact, particularly The Tribute Money in the Brancacci chapel, Florence. Moore still maintained that ‘what I know of Indian, Egyptian and Mexican sculpture completely overshadows Renaissance sculpture—except for the early Italian portrait busts, the very late work of Michelangelo and the work of Donatello’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 52). Moore returned to London in June, having spent only three and a half months of the six-month scholarship abroad. Both emotionally and in terms of his artistic development, the Italian journey had been stressful and disorientating, so much so that years later he admitted that it was the closest he had come to a nervous breakdown. Henry had fallen in love with Edna Ginesi and in March was rejected when he had confessed his love to his best friend's fiancée. Of his struggle to come to terms with the art of the Italian Renaissance, he commented:
For about six months after my return I was never more miserable in my life. Six months' exposure to the masterworks of European art which I saw on my trip stirred up a violent conflict with my previous ideals … I found myself helpless and unable to work. Then gradually I began to find my way out of my quandary in the direction of my earlier interests. I came back to ancient Mexican art in the British Museum. (Henry Moore: Writings, 54)
Before leaving for Italy, Moore had begun work on the Hornton stone Mother and Child (1924–5; Manchester City Galleries), a massive, brooding representation of one of the two themes which would obsess him for the rest of his life. It was his most impressive carving to date, although he was not as yet fully in control of the material. As in much of his early work, the forms are all buried inside each other and the head is given no neck ‘simply because I was frightened to weaken the stone’ (Hedgecoe, Henry Spencer Moore, 45). As with almost all Moore's sculptures executed between 1921 and the early 1950s, the 1924–5 Mother and Child was based on a preparatory drawing.

Dorothy Warren was the first of a line of influential art dealers to promote and market Moore's sculpture and drawings. Although he had already exhibited in two mixed exhibitions in London, at St George's Gallery in 1926 and at the Beaux-Arts Gallery the following year, his first major exhibition was a one-man show in January 1928 at the Warren Gallery, Maddox Street, London, with a brochure listing forty-two sculptures and fifty-one drawings. Moore described Warren, whom he had met through his first patron Charles Rothenstein (William Rothenstein's brother), as a ‘remarkable person with tremendous energy and real verve, real flair’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 55). She sold £90 worth of Moore's work, including ‘thirty drawings at £1 each, several to Epstein, several to Augustus John, and Henry Lamb—it was mostly other artists, and established ones, who bought, and that was a great encouragement to me’ (ibid.). Looking back, Moore often focused on the hostile notices, such as the one in the Morning Post (28 January 1928), which suggested that the exhibition ‘must raise furious thoughts in the minds of those responsible for the teaching at the Royal College of Art’. And yet the reviewer of the Daily Herald (28 January 1928) found the sculpture ‘simply staggering’; the exhibition was a ‘very “advanced” show and one that will shock the orthodox, it contains much sculpture of almost overwhelming power’. The public controversy that his work continued to incite for many years had begun in earnest. But one thing was certain: Henry Moore had established himself as a forceful presence, whose reputation gradually eclipsed the older generation of British sculptors, namely Jacob Epstein, Frank Dobson, and Eric Gill.

The year 1928 not only saw Moore's successful one-man exhibition, but also brought his first public commission. The architect Charles Holden, on Epstein's recommendation, chose Moore as one of six sculptors to carve eight reliefs symbolizing the four winds for the new headquarters of London Underground at St James's Park station, Westminster. Epstein had already been asked to produce two carvings representing Night and Day to be placed above the entrance. The relief sculptures were to be attached to the building some eighty feet above street level. At first Moore was reluctant to accept the commission because relief sculpture was the antithesis of the full, three-dimensional spatial richness he was striving to achieve, and also because it ‘symbolised for me the humiliating subservience of the sculptor to the architect, for in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the architect only thought of sculpture as a surface decoration, and ordered a relief as a matter of course’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 252). But Holden was persuasive, and Moore filled almost an entire sketchbook with studies for the 1928 Portland stone West Wind relief. He realized that a sculpture personifying the west wind could not be static, ‘and then I hit on the idea of a figure suggesting a floating movement’ (ibid., 253). Some nine and a half feet in length, the West Wind was by far the largest carving he had so far attempted, and probably his only sculpture representing the human figure in motion.

Moore regarded the 1929 Hornton stone Reclining Figure (Leeds City Art Gallery) as one of the earliest ‘of some ten or twenty works which I know have been keyworks and which I know have solved some directions that I wanted to be satisfied with’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 254). This carving embodies the quite sudden and dramatic influence of the Toltec-Maya Chacmool reclining figure in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, which Moore described as ‘undoubtedly the one sculpture which most influenced my early work’ (Wilkinson, Drawings, 1977, 77). Moore explained what he admired about the pre-Columbian stone carving: ‘Its stillness and alertness, a sense of readiness—and the whole presence of it, and the legs coming down like columns’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 98). Unlike the 1924–5 Mother and Child, the forms are no longer buried in the block-like mass of the stone. The neck is clearly defined and a naturalistic space has been confidently carved out between the head and the upraised left arm. No longer afraid to weaken the stone, Moore was now in complete control of his material. If the analogy between the female figure and landscape is hinted at in the Leeds carving, in its pendant, the Hornton stone Reclining Woman of 1930 (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa), the similarity is so striking that at one time the sculpture was called simply Mountains. On the one hand, the Leeds and Ottawa reclining figures marked the culmination of a decade largely informed by pre-Columbian sources; on the other hand, they proclaimed in no uncertain terms the reclining figure as one of Moore's principal themes.

At a college dance in the autumn of 1928 Moore met Irina Anatolia Radetzki (1907–1989), a student in the painting school of the Royal College of Art. She was born in Kiev, the daughter of Anatol Radetzki (disappeared 1917), a member of a wealthy, upper-class mercantile family. She and her mother settled in England in 1921 or 1922. Henry and Irina were married in London on 29 July 1929, and moved to 11a Parkhill Road, Hampstead, which they had found through Barbara Hepworth and her first husband, the sculptor John Skeaping, who were living close by at 7 The Mall Studios. During their long and happy marriage Irina was, Moore said, ‘a tremendous inspiration, my most valuable constructive critic’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 57). ‘Nitchka’, as she was known to her friends, was unimpressed by the fame, flattery, and the many honours which were later bestowed on her husband. In her rather shy, quiet but firm way, ‘she keeps my feet on the ground’ (ibid.). They had one daughter, Mary, born on 7 March 1946. Irina died in 1989.

The 1930s

The 1930s represent the most innovative and original years of Moore's career. They also saw a proliferation of exhibitions at home, and Moore's work was included for the first time in exhibitions abroad. In 1930 Moore, with Jacob Epstein and John Skeaping, was invited to represent British sculpture at the XVIII Venice Biennale. In the following year Moore exhibited three works at an international sculpture exhibition at the Kunsthaus, Zürich. It was also in 1931 that Dr Max Sauerlandt, director of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, made the first purchase by a museum of a Moore sculpture. By the end of the decade, examples of his carving had been acquired by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Tate Gallery, London.

In April 1931 Moore held his second one-man exhibition in London, this time at the Leicester Galleries in Leicester Square, the best-known of the London galleries specializing in modern art. In his brief foreword to the modest catalogue, Epstein wrote: ‘Before these works I ponder in silence … For the future of sculpture in England, Henry Moore is vitally important’ (Berthoud, 110–11). As with his first one-man show in 1928, the notices ranged from ‘A Genius of the First Order’ (Jewish Chronicle, 1 May 1931) to an attack by his old enemy at the Morning Post: ‘The cult of ugliness triumphs at the hands of Mr Moore’ (11 April 1931). By far the most serious and influential review was Herbert Read's article in The Listener (22 April 1931), which was reprinted almost verbatim later that year in The Meaning of Art. In this book Read, who became one of Moore's closest friends, was responsible for helping to spread the sculptor's fame throughout the English-speaking world.

Moore's ten-year association with the Royal College of Art had ended earlier in the year when Rothenstein accepted his resignation. With the continuing attacks on his work in the Morning Post, in an effort to remove him from the staff, Moore may well have felt that his teaching at the college put the principal in an awkward position. Before he resigned Moore may already have been approached to start a sculpture department at the Chelsea School of Art, where he began teaching in the autumn of 1931.

One of the most marked features of Moore's warm and gregarious personality was his capacity to form and nourish lasting friendships. Many of his closest friendships, as well as the most influential in terms of his career and reputation, were formed during the 1920s and 1930s. Raymond Coxon, E. C. (‘Peter’) Gregory, the joint managing director of the Bradford printing firm Lund Humphries, and Herbert Read were probably his closest friends. During the thirties, living in Hampstead among what Herbert Read described as ‘a nest of gentle artists’ (H. Read, Art in Britain, 1930–1940, 1965, 7), Moore's friends included, among artists, Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Ivon Hitchens, Bernard Meadows, Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, Roland Penrose, John Piper, John Skeaping, and Graham Sutherland; among architects, Wells Coates, Walter Gropius, and Serge Chermayeff; among poets and writers, T. S. Eliot, Geoffrey Grigson, Stephen Spender, and Adrian Stokes; and among art historians, Alfred Barr, Kenneth Clark, and Philip Hendy.

In English art the 1930s was the decade of group manifestos and group exhibitions. In 1931 Moore joined the , possibly as a result of the summer holiday which he and Irina had spent in 1931 at Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast with Ivon Hitchens and Ben Nicholson, who were already members. He exhibited with the group in the following year, and again in 1935 at the society's last show.

In 1931 Moore produced a Hornton stone sculpture called simply Composition (priv. coll.), in which the human form has been subjected to disturbing and violent distortions utterly unlike anything found in his previous work. This radical change in direction was almost certainly provoked by Picasso's sculpture of 1928 entitled Metamorphosis, and by his drawings of the late 1920s. During the rest of the decade Moore's sculpture and drawings continued to reflect the influence of Picasso and the surrealist sculpture of Arp and Giacometti. Their work liberated Moore's imagination in the direction of a more elusive, more evocative, organic abstraction.

The Moores bought Jasmine Cottage at Barfreston, near Canterbury, Kent, in 1931. This changed dramatically the routine of their lives; the couple spent weekends and holidays there, Moore completing a good half of his year's work in the country. He particularly enjoyed being able to work on his carvings out of doors in the small garden. This pattern of dividing his time between his Hampstead studio, his teaching at the Chelsea School of Art, and a cottage in Kent continued until 1940. In August 1935 the Moores sold Jasmine Cottage and bought Burcroft, a modern bungalow near Kingston, not far from Canterbury. ‘The cottage had five acres of wild meadow. Here for the first time I worked with a three or four mile view of the countryside to which I could relate my sculptures’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 59). Living and working at Burcroft clinched Moore's interest in trying to make sculpture and nature enhance each other.

It was at Burcroft, probably in the summer of 1935, that Moore employed his first assistant, Jack Hepworth, a first cousin of Barbara Hepworth. The following year he took on the young sculptor Bernard Meadows, who lived with the Moores at Burcroft during the summer holidays and was given full board and lodging but no pay. He worked for Moore from 1936 to 1940, from 1946 to 1948, and intermittently during the 1950s. Meadows did much of the initial roughing out of the stone or wood sculptures, and was allowed to carve down to about a quarter inch of the final surface. During the 1950s Moore hired two young English sculptors who went on to achieve brilliant careers—Anthony Caro in 1951 and Phillip King in 1959.

Herbert Read's Henry Moore, Sculptor: an Appreciation, the first monograph on the artist, was published in 1934. The author was unreserved in his praise of Moore's achievement at this relatively early stage in his career, eulogizing that ‘in the fulness of his powers, he offers us the perfected product of his genius’ (p. 16).

The birth of was announced by Paul Nash in a letter to The Times in June 1933, although the group's first exhibition, at the Mayor Gallery, Cork Street, London, was not held until April 1934. The show coincided with the publication of Unit One: the Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, edited by Herbert Read, to which each of the eleven members contributed a statement. Moore and Hepworth were the two sculptors in the group. In Moore's statement, his most expansive airing to date of his views on the art of sculpture, he discussed five qualities in sculpture which had become of fundamental importance to him: truth to material, full three-dimensional realization, observation of natural objects, vision and expression, and vitality and power of expression. Throughout his life, in his extensive writings, and in his countless conversations and interviews, Moore never seemed to tire of surveying the history of sculpture, of describing the work of his favourite painters, sculptors and draughtsmen, or of helping others to understand his own sculptures and drawings. He was an engaging conversationalist, with a great ability to communicate in a direct and vivid way.

In the summer of 1934 the Moores and the Coxons set off on a motoring holiday to the continent. They drove to Bordeaux, crossed the border, and headed for the Altamira caves in northern Spain. It was not just the prehistoric paintings that interested Moore. Caves had held a fascination for him since childhood when he explored the sand holes in the sides of hills in Castleford. In 1937 he associated the holes in his sculpture with ‘the mysterious fascination of caves in hillsides and cliffs’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 196). They moved on to Toledo to see the El Grecos and then to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. On the way home they visited the cave paintings at Les Eyzies and Font de Gaume in the Dordogne.

Moore's sculptures and drawings of the mid-1930s continued to reflect the influence of the Parisian avant-garde, as well as the uncompromising abstraction of Nicholson's white reliefs and Hepworth's first abstract carvings. By 1933–4 Moore had created several sculptures in which the holes carved through the stone were abstract spaces, rather than naturalist voids between, for example, the arm and the head or torso. The Cumberland alabaster of 1934, Four Piece Composition: Reclining Figure (Tate collection), anticipated the monumental two- and three-piece reclining figures of 1959–64. In the 1934 pynkado wood Two Forms (Museum of Modern Art, New York), in which the semi-abstract pelvic form looms over the smaller rounded form, the mother and child theme is represented on a symbolic level. At this stage Moore believed that in making his sculptures more abstract he could ‘present the human psychological content of my work with the greatest directness and intensity’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 198). On a completely different note, the serene life drawings of Irina of 1933–5 marked the culmination of some fifteen years of continuous study of the human figure.

1936 was an important year for group exhibitions at home and abroad. In London Moore's work was included in ‘Abstract and Concrete’ at Alex. Reid and Lefevre and in the International Surrealist Exhibition at New Burlington Galleries, and in New York in Alfred Barr's pioneering exhibitions ‘Cubism and Abstract Art’ and ‘Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism’.

Unlike his article for Unit One, Moore made only a minimal contribution to the 1937 Circle: International Survey of Constructive Art, edited by J. L. Martin, Ben Nicholson, and Naum Gabo. He never fully embraced the ideals of abstraction and constructivism, any more than he did those of surrealism. From each he borrowed and absorbed what he needed. ‘The sculptor speaks’, published in The Listener (18 August 1937), was the most important statement of Moore's career on the art of sculpture. In it he described sculpture as the most difficult of the arts to appreciate, and recommended that a sculptor should think of and use form in its full spatial completeness. In a surprising remark, he stated, ‘Since the Gothic, European sculpture had become overgrown with moss, weeds—all sorts of surface excrescences which completely concealed shape’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 194), effectively dismissing the sculpture of Donatello, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Rodin. With echoes of surrealist doctrine, he acknowledged that ‘There are universal shapes to which everybody is subconsciously conditioned and to which they can respond if their conscious control does not shut them off’ (ibid., 195). He discussed the importance of the human figure and of natural forms as his primary sources of inspiration. The succinct statements about holes in sculpture—‘The first hole made through a piece of stone is a revelation’ (ibid., 195)—are among the most frequently quoted passages from the article. Moore concluded with an explanation of the importance of drawing as a means of generating ideas for sculpture, a condemnation of what he saw as the unnecessary quarrel between the abstractionists and the surrealists, and an affirmation of his commitment, however abstract his work may appear, to retaining links with human and occasionally animal forms: ‘I think the humanist organic element will always be for me of fundamental importance in sculpture, giving sculpture its vitality’ (ibid., 197).

The mid- to late 1930s saw Moore, like many British artists and writers, deeply affected by the rise of Nazism in Germany and of fascism in Italy, and by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936. This, the politically most active period of his life, began with his association with the Artists International Association (AIA), a Marxist-orientated group of artists. Moore exhibited in the AIA's first exhibition, ‘The Social Scene’, held in London in 1934, and the following year in their second London show, ‘Artists against Fascism and War’

In an interview a few years before his death, Moore recalled: ‘I was approached by the Communists in the 1930s when a lot of people did join them. But I didn't go that far’ (Berthoud, 144). There is no doubt, however, of his allegiance at the time to communist ideals. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 Moore was one of ten signatories of the English Surrealist Group's Declaration on Spain, accusing the government of duplicity and anti-democratic intrigue, and calling for arms for the people of Spain. The horrors of the Spanish Civil War were brought home to Moore in 1937 when he and Irina visited Picasso in his studio in Paris to see the as yet unfinished Guernica, the greatest anti-war painting of the twentieth century, which was inspired by Picasso's outrage at the German bombing of the Basque town. In a long letter published in the Yorkshire Post on 3 March 1938, Moore urged attendance at a mass demonstration in Leeds on 3 April under the banner ‘Collective security—the people's answer to dictators’. It was the most public and impassioned political statement of his career.

Moore described the stringed figures of 1937–40 as his most abstract sculptures and yet maintained that the forms were based on living creatures. These highly inventive works were inspired by the mathematical models developed by J. F. Lagrange in Paris, ‘that have geometric figures at the ends with coloured threads from one to the other to show what the form between would be’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 256). In his own stringed figures, Moore liked the contrast between the transparent strings and the solid form. The ingenious wood Bird Basket of 1939 (Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire) was so called ‘because it has the handle of a basket over the top and strings that show the little inner piece as a bird inside a cage’ (ibid., 257).

In the 1938 Hornton stone Recumbent Figure (Tate collection), with its large, opened-out space beneath the breasts, Moore has achieved in the more fragile medium of stone what he had managed in wood in the 1935–6 Reclining Figure (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo). The 1938 carving was commissioned by the Russian architect Serge Chermayeff for the terrace of his house at Halland in Sussex, which had an open view of the South Downs. This was the first sculpture which Moore created for a specific rural setting, ‘and it was then that I became aware of the necessity of giving outdoor sculpture a far-seeing gaze’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 259). When Chermayeff moved to America in 1939, he returned the carving and the deposit to Moore. On the advice of Kenneth Clark, director of the National Gallery, the Contemporary Art Society purchased Recumbent Figure for £300 and presented it to the Tate Gallery in 1939. Clark, whom Moore had probably met in early 1938, was to become one of his most influential patrons and a close friend.

Moore produced a maquette based on a drawing both for the Tate Recumbent Figure and for the 1939 elm wood Reclining Figure (Detroit Institute of Arts). Previously, large carvings had evolved directly from the drawings. Moore described the Detroit sculpture as ‘my most “opened out” wood carving—you can look from one end to the other through a series of tunnels’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 259–60). These two works are representative of Moore's greatest achievements in stone and wood.

Between 1938 and 1940 Moore and Bernard Meadows cast some twenty-four small-size lead sculptures at Burcroft in Kent. This not only marked a radical break from his commitment to direct carving, but also meant that by modelling in wax he could create much thinner, more open forms than were possible in stone or wood. Three Points (1939–40; cast iron, Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire), where the three sharp forms practically touch, reminded Moore of the fingers of God and Adam in Michelangelo's fresco in the Sistine Chapel. The Helmet (1939–40; lead cast, National Galleries of Scotland) was the first of Moore's internal–external form sculptures. The motif had first appeared in a drawing of 1935 in which Moore copied a Malanggan figure from New Ireland, a style of wood carving which he greatly admired for the delicate, intricately carved forms within forms. The Helmet, however, would appear to derive from two hollowed-out, prehistoric Greek implements which Moore had sketched in a 1937 notebook.

The 1940s

When war was declared in September 1939 Moore was living and working at Burcroft in Kent. In October the Moores gave up 11a Parkhill Road, London, and rented the less expensive 7 The Mall Studios from Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, who had moved to Cornwall with their three children. By 1940 Moore's teaching had all but ended. Late one evening in September 1940, Moore and Irina were forced to remain on the platform at Belsize Park underground station for about an hour until a bombing raid subsided. They found themselves in the company of Londoners, men, women, and children who were spending the night sheltering from the blitz. Moore was fascinated by what he saw: ‘I saw hundreds of Henry Moore Reclining Figures stretched along the platforms’ (Henry Moore on Sculpture, 212, 216), and ‘even the train tunnels seemed to be like the holes in my sculpture’ (Hedgecoe, Henry Spencer Moore, 134). Within a few days he produced the first of his shelter drawings.

In October 1940 the Moores spent a weekend with the Labour MP Leonard Matters and his wife at their house in South-End, next to the hamlet of Perry Green, near Much Hadham, Hertfordshire. On their return to London they found that 7 The Mall Studios had been badly damaged by a bomb and was uninhabitable. They returned to their friends in South-End and were soon able to rent half of a seventeenth-century house, Hoglands, in Perry Green. A few months later, having just sold for £300 the 1939 elmwood Reclining Figure to Gordon Onslow-Ford, Moore bought Hoglands for £900 and he lived there for the rest of his life.

At home Moore began filling the first of two shelter sketchbooks with scenes drawn from memory of what he had seen on his frequent visits to various London underground stations. As he recounted some years later: ‘the only thing at all like those shelters that I could think of was the hold of a slave-ship on its way from Africa to America, full of hundreds and hundreds of people who were having things done to them that they were quite powerless to resist’ (Henry Moore on Sculpture, 218). The War Artists' Advisory Committee, which had commissioned the shelter drawings, purchased seventeen large versions based on the sketchbook studies. When the shelter drawings were exhibited in 1941, 1942, and 1944 in three exhibitions under the title ‘War Pictures’ at the National Gallery, they reached and touched the general public in a way that his earlier sculpture and drawing never could.

Leeds and Castleford were the focal points of two important events in 1941. The first was the exhibition of thirty-nine sculptures and fifty-six drawings organized by Philip Hendy and shown with the works of Graham Sutherland and John Piper at Temple Newsam House, part of the Leeds City Art Gallery. The second was Moore's visit to Castleford, following Herbert Read's suggestion that he might consider doing a series of drawings of coalminers, ‘Britain's underground army’. Early in December Moore began sketching miners at the coalface in the depths of the Wheldale colliery where his father had worked. Moore had never willingly drawn the male figure before, but now he was confronted with the challenge of doing so, and of representing the figures in action. In his wartime drawings he adopted a more naturalistic approach to the human figure, which he later saw as ‘perhaps a temporary resolution of that conflict which caused me those miserable first six months after I had left Masaccio behind in Florence and had once again come within the attraction of the archaic and primitive sculptures of the British Museum’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 266).

Moore produced no sculptures between September 1940 and June 1942 when he was working on his wartime drawings. In 1941 he did find time to write an important article, ‘Primitive art’, published in The Listener on 24 April. He was a trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1941 to 1948, and again from 1949 to 1956. Over the years Moore gave generously of his time, serving on various public bodies: he was a trustee of the National Gallery for three consecutive terms from 1956 to 1971; he also served on the boards of the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Royal Fine Arts Commission, and the National Theatre.

In 1943 the Revd Walter Hussey commissioned Moore to create a sculpture of the Madonna and child for the fiftieth anniversary of St Matthew's Church, Northampton. From twelve terracotta maquettes, Moore chose one which served as the model for the massive 5 foot high stone carving, his first religious sculpture. The Madonna and Child was unveiled in February 1944 to a mixture of praise and condemnation of the sort that had greeted his first one-man exhibition in 1928. The naturalism of the figures and the use of drapery reflected the influence of the shelter drawings. Moore succeeded in giving the Madonna and Child what he described as ‘an austerity and a nobility, and some touch of grandeur (even hieratic aloofness) which is missing in the everyday “Mother and Child” idea’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 267).

By the mid-1940s Moore's achievements were recognized at home and abroad. In 1945 he was created honorary doctor of literature by the University of Leeds, the first of some two dozen honorary degrees bestowed on him during the next forty years. In December 1946 Moore was in New York for the opening of his retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. The show attracted 158,000 visitors in three months, before travelling to the Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Art. There was extensive coverage, mainly favourable, in the New York press, as well as in Newsweek, Time, Life, and Vogue. The fine arts department of the British Council arranged for a much reduced version of the exhibition to tour to Australia. Moore's international reputation was firmly established.

In 1944 Moore began a series of maquettes of family groups which culminated in the large bronze Family Group (1948–9) commissioned for Barclay School, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, by the county's education officer. The subject was first suggested when the educationist Henry Morris approached Moore about a sculpture for one of his village colleges at Impington, Cambridgeshire, but failed to raise the necessary funds. Two other outdoor sculptures date from the mid- to late 1940s: the Hornton stone Memorial Figure (1945–6), beautifully sited at Dartington Hall, Devon, and the Darley Dale stone Three Standing Figures (1947–8), in Battersea Park, London.

Moore won the international prize for sculpture at the XXIV Venice Biennale of 1948, firmly establishing his reputation in Europe. The exhibition was under the auspices of the British Council, who over the years helped to organize and supported on a cost-sharing basis many Henry Moore exhibitions. As the sculptor commented: ‘the British Council did more for me as an artist than any dealer’ (Berthoud, 214). In 1949 the largest exhibition to date was shown at the Wakefield City Art Gallery and at the Manchester City Art Gallery, before the British Council organized a tour to Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, and Bern. The inexorable flood of Moore exhibitions had begun. In the early days Moore often travelled to several venues to supervise the installation and attend the opening ceremony. His infectious charm and his willingness to discuss his work at these events did much to promote his sculpture and to enhance the growing reputation abroad of contemporary British art.

The 1950s

On 5 December 1950, Moore wrote to decline the offer of a knighthood; he was concerned that it might change his conception of himself and of his work. Two greater honours were later bestowed: the Companion of Honour in 1955 and the Order of Merit in 1963.

The bronze Reclining Figure: Festival (1951; cast held at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh) was commissioned by the Arts Council of Great Britain for the festival of Britain; it was installed opposite the main entrance of the South Bank site. The sculpture marked a turning point in Moore's exploration of solids and voids: ‘This figure was perhaps my first conscious effort to make space and form absolutely inseparable’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 276). The Arts Council also arranged Moore's first London retrospective, which opened at the Tate Gallery on 1 May, two days before the festival itself. The works were selected and the catalogue was written by the art critic David Sylvester, who had worked as Moore's part-time secretary in 1944. To coincide with the Tate exhibition, John Read wrote and produced for the BBC a film on Moore's work. In 1951 Moore began a series of internal–external form sculptures which culminated in the large elmwood Upright Internal/External Form (1953–4; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo). The reclining figure and mother and child were the two most important themes in Moore's work; a third was the internal–external form motif, many examples of which were inspired by Malanggan carvings. He discussed the theme in symbolic terms of ‘an outer protection to an inner form, and it may have something to do with the mother and child idea’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 214).

Moore and Irina visited Greece in late February 1951 on the occasion of his British Council exhibition at the Zappeion Gallery, Athens. He later remarked that if asked for his ten greatest visual experiences, three or four would come from Greece, including the Parthenon, Delphi, and Mycenae. Towards the end of 1953 Moore visited Brazil, again as a guest of the British Council; he won the international sculpture prize at the second São Paulo Bienal. From there he travelled to Mexico City, saw the pyramids at Teotihuacan and Cuernavaca, and met the painter Diego Rivera.

Between 1952 and 1956 Moore created three of his greatest bronzes, which are as different from each other as they are from his earlier work. The King and Queen (1952–3)—of which a cast is dramatically sited at Glenkiln, Dumfriesshire—is probably Moore's best-known sculpture. The idea for these two regal seated figures was triggered by the stories of kings and queens and princesses which Moore was reading at the time to his six-year-old daughter. In contrast to the quiet dignity of this work, the mutilated Warrior with Shield (1953–4; cast held at Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto), Moore's first sculpture of a separate male figure, with bony, masculine, tense forms, is wounded yet still defiant. The idea ‘evolved from a pebble I found on the seashore in the summer of 1952, and which reminded me of the stump of a leg, amputated at the hip’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 283). By the mid-1950s Moore was no longer using drawing as a means of generating ideas for sculpture. During the last thirty or so years of his working life natural forms—bones, shells, and flint stones—were the principal sources of inspiration from which sculptural ideas evolved. Upright Motive No. 1: Glenkiln Cross (1955–6; cast at Glenkiln, Dumfriesshire) is the largest and the most figurative of five upright motives, each of which was enlarged from one of thirteen maquettes made in 1955 for what turned out to be an abortive commission for Olivetti's new office building in Milan. Moore began by balancing organic forms ‘one above the other—with results rather like the Northwest American totem poles … and then one in particular (later to be named the Glenkiln Cross) took on the shape of a crucifix—a kind of worn-down body and a cross merged into one’ (Henry Moore on Sculpture, 253). The Glenkiln Cross is rich in associations: seen from afar an eroded Celtic cross; on closer inspection a single primeval eye above truncated arms balancing on the smooth torso with the sensuous conjunction of waist and hip; and viewed between upright motives nos. 2 and 7, a crucifixion scene.

The UNESCO Reclining Figure (1957–8) was one of Moore's last public commissions created for a specific site, the new UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The massive carving, his largest sculpture to date, was made from four blocks of Roman travertine weighing some 39 tons and took fourteen months to complete. The unveiling in Paris in November 1958 may be said to mark the end of Moore's public role as sculptor. As a spokesman on the international stage, his speech ‘The sculptor in modern society’, delivered in Venice in 1952 at the International Conference of Artists, was his first and last major public address. Moore's role as an adjudicator, which had included membership of the organizing committee for the Unknown Political Prisoner sculpture competition in 1952, came to an end in 1958 when, as president of the jury, he reported on the progress in selecting a sculpture to be erected on the site of Auschwitz–Birkenau concentration camp, which he visited in 1958.

The year 1958 was a watershed. From this date forward Moore's work became more personal. As Alan Bowness pointed out, ‘Moore has seemed more inclined to please himself, exploiting all the possibilities of working on a grand scale that were now open to him as a successful sculptor, indifferent to fashion and caring little about what other people might think’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 27). This late period began abruptly in 1959, when he created the first in the series of rugged two- and three-piece reclining figures, which were a continuation, but on a much larger scale, of the multi-part compositions of the mid-1930s. The analogies between the female figure and landscape had never been so strongly stated.
I realised what an advantage a separated two-piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape … Knees and breast are mountains … Once these two parts become separated, you don't expect it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore, you can more justifiably make it like a landscape or a rock. (Henry Moore: Writings, 288)
Several figurative carvings of the 1930s and 1940s echoed elements of landscape; the metaphor was now reversed. The imagery of cliffs, rocks, caves, and dramatic headlands dominated, but with enough legible, figurative references to enable each of the sections to be read as forming part of a single, fragmented human form. In Two Pieces Reclining Figure No. 1 (1959; cast held at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London), the first in the series, the dynamic thrust of the leg section reminded Moore of Adel Rock, which he had visited as a boy, and also of Seurat's painting Le Bec de Hoc, Grandcamp (1885; Tate collection), which he had often seen on visits to Kenneth Clark.

The 1960s

In 1961 Moore was asked if he would create a sculpture for the pool in front of the new Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York. It was a commission, but he was free to produce what he liked. The two-piece Lincoln Center Reclining Figure (1963–5) was so large that, in order to make and protect the plaster from which the bronze would be cast, Moore built a large outdoor studio in his garden. The sculpture was cast in West Berlin by Hermann Noack.

Moore's 1961 Standing Figure: Knife Edge was based directly on a small bone, to which he added a clay head and a stump-like arm. In 1967 one of the bronze casts of this sculpture was unveiled in St Stephen's Green, Dublin, in memory of the Irish poet W. B. Yeats.

Paradoxically, it was during the personal and private late period—private in the sense that the abundant maquettes developed in the seclusion of his studio were created for their own sake—that many of Moore's best-known public sculptures evolved. In December 1963 Professor William McNeil and two other committee members from the University of Chicago visited Moore in the hope of commissioning a sculpture to commemorate Enrico Fermi's achievement in producing the first controlled nuclear chain reaction. Moore showed them a small maquette which he had made recently, with a smooth, dome-shaped head that related to the earlier helmet series. It was agreed that if enlarged, the sculpture might be a suitable memorial. Moore said that he would make it anyway, and if the committee liked it, well and good. Based on the 1964 Maquette for Atom Piece, a plaster working model was made, and from this the 12 foot-high bronze Nuclear energy (1964–6; University of Chicago) with its sinister suggestions of a human skull and a mushroom cloud.

Three Way Piece No. 2: (the) Archer (1964–5) began life as a maquette and working model. The Finnish architect Viljo Revell, on a visit to Hoglands on 23 November 1964, told Moore that an enlarged version would be ideal for the civic square in front of the new city hall he had designed for Toronto. Revell returned home and died in Finland the following day. Moore went ahead and enlarged the sculpture. Toronto city council refused to buy The Archer but the necessary funds (£40,000) were raised from private sources, and the large bronze was unveiled on 27 October 1966. In March 1967, during a reception for Moore at the new city hall, the idea for a Moore gallery as part of a planned expansion programme of the Art Gallery of Ontario was born. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Moore was closely involved with the design and plans for the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, which opened on 26 October 1974. The sculptor donated 100 original plasters and bronzes, 57 drawings, and an almost complete collection of his graphic work. Today, some 900 sculptures, drawings, and prints comprise the largest public collection of Moore's work.

On 26 February 1967 it was announced in the Sunday Telegraph that Moore had offered between twenty and thirty sculptures to the nation, which would probably go to the Tate Gallery. Late in April, the government agreed to give £200,000 towards a proposed extension, provided that the trustees could match the grant. On 26 May The Times published a letter signed by forty-one artists protesting against the allocation of funds and exhibition space for the work of an individual artist. Moore was deeply hurt by the letter, among whose signatories were his former assistants Anthony Caro and Phillip King. The special gallery to display his work was never built. In 1978, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, Moore donated thirty-six bronzes and original plaster casts to the Tate Gallery.

One of the most obvious characteristics of Moore's late style is the highly charged erotic and overt sexual nature of some of the work. This is particularly true of the sculpture of the 1960s, such as the intertwining, embracing forms of Locking Piece (1963–4; cast held in Tate collection); the thrusting, phallic form in Two Piece No. 7: Pipe (1966; cast held in Tate collection); and the sense of coupling, past or imminent, in the sensual Large Two Forms (1966 and 1969; cast held at Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto). Another characteristic of his late work is the sheer size of some of the bronzes. Large Two Forms was one of the first works constructed using large, lightweight blocks of polystyrene, rather than by building an armature and adding heavy wet plaster.

During the 1960s the two most important Moore exhibitions were held in London: ‘Henry Moore: Sculpture, 1950–1960’ opened in November 1960 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, and in 1968 Moore's second retrospective at the Tate Gallery was held on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. David Sylvester once again selected the works and wrote the Tate catalogue. Of the many books, catalogues, and articles on Moore that had appeared in startlingly increasing numbers since 1945, none was more influential than Henry Moore on Sculpture: a Collection of the Sculptor's Writings and Spoken Words (1966), edited by Philip James.

In 1969, a year after he had been given an African elephant skull by Juliette Huxley, Moore began a series of etchings of the skull, the largest and most impressive item among the hundreds of natural forms which filled many boxes and were strewn about among the plaster maquettes on every available surface in the Hoglands maquette studio. Once he had made several etchings of the entire skull, Moore found so much fascinating imagery in the structural details—a Doric column, underground dungeons, a desert landscape—that he produced thirty-eight etchings for the Elephant Skull album, which marked the beginning of a sustained interest in printmaking, an activity which had occupied him intermittently since he produced his first graphic work in 1931. During the next fifteen years, the sale of individual prints, print albums and portfolios generated a substantial income. Between 1931 and 1984, Moore produced 719 prints, mainly in editions. His activities as a printmaker coincided almost exactly with a renewed interest in drawing, which had declined in the early 1950s when he was no longer using drawings as a way of generating ideas for sculpture. In 1970 he made some sixty-five pen exercises, and during the next sixteen years he produced an astonishing number of drawings, particularly during the early 1980s when he was too ill to work on his sculpture. The range and variety of subject matter is equally astonishing: sheep in the field near one of the studios; a log pile at Hoglands; trees and hedges; shipwrecks; ethereal landscapes; drawings of his grandson Gus; reclining figures; mother and child studies; and Dorothy Hodgkin's hands. He was able to draw freely, enjoying it for its own sake.

The 1970s

In 1972 a retrospective exhibition of Moore's work was held in the magnificent setting of the Forte di Belvedere, Florence. Moore commented that ‘No better site for showing sculpture in the open-air, in relationship to architecture, & to a town, could be found anywhere in the world’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 75). The exhibition attracted 345,000 visitors. Other notable, if less spectacular, exhibitions included ‘Henry Moore: Sculptures et Dessins’ at the Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris (1977), and ‘The Drawings of Henry Moore’, shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, in 1977 and in 1978 at four venues in Japan and then at the Tate Gallery, London, as part of the celebrations marking Moore's eightieth birthday. It was also during the 1970s that the demand for Moore's sculpture among private collectors, museum directors, and architects reached its zenith. In May 1978 he was in Washington, DC, to help with the installation of the monumental bronze Mirror Knife Edge (1977), at the entrance to I. M. Pei's new East Building of the National Gallery of Art. In December of that year Moore was in Dallas for the unveiling of the gigantic bronze Three Forms Vertebrae (1978), in front of Pei's new city hall, and in 1979 he was in Bonn to supervise the placement of Large Two Forms (1966 and 1969) in front of the new chancellery building. Examples of Moore's carvings and bronzes are sited in many public locations around the world. Some 285 museums, municipalities, and institutions own examples of his work.

In 1977, with the help of his daughter, Mary, Moore established the Henry Moore Foundation funded by the enormous profits from the sale of his work. The foundation was set up ‘to advance the education of the public by the promotion of their appreciation of the fine arts and in particular the works of Henry Moore’. It now operates from Dane Tree House, Perry Green, and the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. The foundation is responsible for conserving and expanding their vast holdings of Moore's work, which comprise some 650 carvings and bronzes, 3500 drawings, and 6000 prints, and for making the collection available for exhibitions, scholarly study, and publication. The institute supports students and artists, and organizes conferences, seminars, and exhibitions. Moore's charitable foundation is one of his enduring legacies. In March 1980 Moore's daughter left England to settle in South Africa with her husband and son. Even though their relationship had at times been difficult, it was the most upsetting event in Moore's adult life.

Final years

The largest Moore exhibition ever assembled, again organized with the assistance of the British Council, was shown at three locations in Madrid in 1981. In November 1982 Moore attended the opening by Queen Elizabeth II of the Henry Moore Centre for the Study of Sculpture, an extension of Leeds City Art Gallery which had been funded by the Henry Moore Foundation. In 1983 Moore's second New York retrospective, ‘Henry Moore: 60 Years of his Art’, was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was also in the 1980s that two prestigious honours were bestowed upon Moore: in 1980 he was presented with the West German grand cross of the order of merit and in October 1984 he was invested commander of the Légion d'honneur.

On 8 August 1983 Moore was taken to hospital in Cambridge, where he underwent a prostate operation; he was discharged on 17 August but returned to hospital soon afterwards. Following his daughter's return from South Africa, Moore returned to Hoglands, where he gradually recovered and was able to do some drawing. Henry Moore died at Hoglands on 31 August 1986. His funeral was held on 4 September at St Thomas's Church, Perry Green, and a service of thanksgiving took place at Westminster Abbey on 18 November 1986.

Working methods, character, reputation, and assessment

In his early career, Moore had an almost fanatical belief in truth to materials, carving his sculptures. However, by the mid-1940s his working methods had radically changed. Although he did not give up carving, he created more and more sculptures in clay, but more usually in plaster, many of which were destined to be cast in bronze. The small plaster maquettes were made by Moore in the privacy of his studio. He would select a maquette which he wanted to be enlarged and his assistants would, under his supervision, make the large version or versions by constructing an armature of wood, scrim, wire, or wire netting, onto which the wet plaster was applied. From the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s Moore would take over once the assistants had built up the plaster to within an inch or so of the final measurements, but during the last twenty or so years of his life he worked less and less on the working model and large-scale plasters. As the scale of Moore's work increased dramatically in the mid-1960s, the assistants worked with large blocks of polystyrene to create the working models and very large sculptures.

Practical, down-to-earth, open and friendly, Moore had a boyish charm, beguiling conversation, and sense of fun that enchanted his many friends and the thousands of visitors whom he welcomed over the years to Hoglands. Bernard Meadows described working with him during the late 1930s: ‘Henry was like a boy, jokey, singing bawdy army songs he had learnt in the First World War. There was a simplicity about him, not a naiveté’ (Berthoud, 136). Short and stocky of build, he never lost his light Yorkshire accent. A genuine modesty masked a supremely confident and ambitious artist, addicted to his work, and deeply concerned about his place among the greatest sculptors in the history of Western art. He rarely acknowledged the considerable influence on his own work of such contemporaries as Picasso, Arp, and Giacometti. Moore was extraordinarily generous in many ways, yet rarely gave a sculpture or drawing to a friend, or to those who had worked for him for many years. He was financially less than generous towards his assistants, without whose help the very profitable large sculptures could never have been made. Despite his becoming a very wealthy man, in the many years that Henry and Irina lived at Hoglands, their lifestyle changed very little. What mattered most to Moore was that he could readily afford to hire more assistants when needed, in later years to employ highly skilled stone carvers at the Henraux marble works at Querceta, and to meet the considerable cost of having the hundreds of original plasters cast in bronze editions. In the tributes and obituaries following Moore's death, there was almost as much praise for the man as for his work. The Daily Telegraph (1 September 1986) declared in a leading article: ‘Since the death of Sir Winston Churchill, Henry Moore had been the most internationally-acclaimed of Englishmen, honoured by every civilized country in the world’, and in The Guardian (1 September 1986) Norbert Lynton commented that ‘Time will show which was his greater achievement, his life or his art’.

From 1928, the year of his first one-man show and his first public commission, until 1939, when his first sculpture to enter a national collection was accepted as a gift by the Tate Gallery, Moore's reputation as one of the most important avant-garde artists in England grew steadily and inexorably. Although the British public may have been baffled and affronted by the holes and distortions of the human figure, and the hermetic, semi-abstract carvings of the mid-1930s, Moore had the support of such influential artists, art historians, and collectors as Jacob Epstein, Augustus John, Herbert Read, R. H. Wilenski, Alfred Barr, Kenneth Clark, Philip Hendy, Michael Sadler, Roland Penrose, and Robert Sainsbury. The carvings from these years represent Moore's most significant contribution to the modernist movement in England, and their importance and originality have rarely been questioned. It was the shelter drawings of 1940–41, exhibited during the war at the National Gallery, which almost overnight transformed Moore's reputation with the public from that of an avant-garde outsider to an artist whose work Londoners could readily identify with and admire.

The first serious challenge to Moore's brand of modernism was voiced in 1947 by the influential American formalist critic Clement Greenberg. He labelled Moore ‘a sincere academic modern’, deplored his attachment to the past, and described his work as ‘not too far from classical statuary’ (Kosinski, 23). Greenberg championed the new American sculpture of David Smith and his colleagues, who had rejected the traditional materials of sculpture in favour of welding and commercial steel, often brightly coloured with industrial paints. By the early 1960s, influenced by David Smith and supported by Greenberg, Moore's former assistant Anthony Caro and his students at St Martin's School of Art were constructing sculptures made of painted steel or synthetic materials. Moore's work was deemed conservative and irrelevant. However, Caro recognized and paid tribute to Moore's importance for his generation, and in so doing summed up one of the older sculptor's most important legacies: ‘His success has created a climate for all of us younger sculptors and has given us confidence in ourselves which without his efforts we would not have felt’ (ibid., 27). While the steel constructions of Smith and Caro had an enormous stylistic influence on the evolution of sculpture during the second half of the twentieth century, Moore's work involved closure, marking the end of a tradition and leading nowhere, so thoroughly had he explored, in stone, wood, and bronze, the human figure and biomorphic forms inspired by natural objects: bones, shells, pebbles, and flint stones.

From the late 1940s until the end of Moore's career, the increasing adulation of the public, collectors, architects, and the boards of multinational corporations ran parallel to the growing hostility of a number of critics and of the younger generation of sculptors. When in the early 1950s he had all but abandoned the sacred doctrine of truth to material so that he could have his work cast in bronze editions, his detractors compared his working method, whereby assistants were given a maquette to be enlarged in plaster, to the use of mechanical pointing machines by skilled stone carvers, a practice which Moore had deplored as a young student. Some of the monumental late bronzes were criticized for their grandiose inflation of scale and for the large editions in which they were cast. There was also the question of over-exposure. In the 1960s and 1970s, almost as if by right, a large Moore bronze was frequently the inevitable choice for new public spaces or office towers of multinational companies. To his friends and admirers, Moore could do no wrong, while the anti-Moore camp found nothing to praise or admire. And yet nobody can doubt the enormous influence of the man and his work. No sculptor since Rodin enjoyed such worldwide fame and no artist of his era has done as much as Henry Moore to explain and promote the art of sculpture.

Moore was an instinctual not an intellectual artist, whose work has a high seriousness, a gravitas, with an almost total absence of wit or humour. Throughout his life he was striving to achieve a vitality and power of expression in his work. As he wrote in 1934, ‘I want to make sculpture as big in feeling & grandeur as the Sumerian, as vital as Negro as direct & stone like as Mexican as alive as Early Greek & Etruscan as spiritual as Gothic’ (Henry Moore: Writings, 200). The diversity of Moore's imagery stems from the plethora of sources which he assimilated into his art. In focusing on the human figure, Moore extended the frontiers of the Western humanist tradition. In exploring the reclining figure theme, he created profoundly moving, poetic images of the human body as a metaphor for landscape. In the mother and child motif and family groups, he celebrated nurturing and the bonds of family life. Moore's sculpture embodies the dignity and resilience of the human spirit, and the will to survive.

Moore never belonged to a school. Nor was he in the 1930s a true surrealist or a true abstractionist: although he took from both camps what he needed, he always retained his independence. He was as much a successor to the sculpture of classical Greece and the work of Michelangelo and Rodin as he was to the disparate styles of ‘primitive’ art. Throughout the more than sixty years of his prolific creative life, whether working in stone, wood, clay, or plaster, Moore's single-minded obsession was the exploration of three-dimensional form and space. In the final analysis, it is for the richness and inventiveness of his personal form language, and its power to move and to evoke rich associations with the human body, with landscape and the forms in nature, that the sculptor would wish to be remembered.



Henry Moore: writings and conversations, ed. A. Wilkinson (2002) · R. Berthoud, The life of Henry Moore (1987) · A. G. Wilkinson, The drawings of Henry Moore (1977) · Henry Moore on sculpture, ed. P. James (1966) · A. G. Wilkinson, Henry Moore remembered (1987) · S. Spender, Henry Moore OM (1987) [memorial address] · A. Davis, ed., Henry Moore bibliography, 1–5 (1992–4) · H. Moore, Henry Spencer Moore, ed. J. Hedgecoe (1968) · H. Moore and J. Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: my ideas, inspiration and life as an artist (1986) · H. Read, Henry Moore, sculptor: an appreciation (1934) · H. Read, Henry Moore: a study of his life and work (1965) · H. Read, ‘Henry Moore’, The Listener (22 April 1931), 688–9 · G. Grigson, Henry Moore (1943) · J. J. Sweeney, Henry Moore (1946) · A. D. B. Sylvester, ‘The evolution of Henry Moore's sculpture’, Burlington Magazine (June 1948), 158–65 · A. D. B. Sylvester, Sculpture and drawings by Henry Moore (1951) · J. Russell, Henry Moore (1968) · D. Hall, Henry Moore: the life and work of a great sculptor (1966) · E. Neumann, The archetypal world of Henry Moore (1959) · H. Seldis, Henry Moore in America (1973) · K. Clark, Henry Moore drawings (1974) · B. Robertson, Henry Moore: sculpture, 1950–1960 (1960) · Henry Moore: sculpture and environment (1976) [photographs and text by D. Finn, foreword by K. Clark, commentaries by H. Moore] · H. Moore, Henry Moore at the British Museum (1981) · Henry Moore: sculptures in landscape (1978) [photographs and foreword by G. Shakerley, text by S. Spender, introduction by H. Moore] · D. Sylvester, Henry Moore (1968) · A. G. Wilkinson, The drawings of Henry Moore (1984) · ‘Henry Moore: an interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon (Nov 1960), 102–15 · W. Forma, Five British sculptors: work and talk (1964) · J. Freeman, Face to face with John Freeman: interviews from the BBC TV series (1989) · D. Carroll, The Donald Carroll interviews (1973) · C. Lake, ‘Henry Moore's world’, Atlantic Monthly (Jan 1962), 39–45 · W. Grohmann, The art of Henry Moore (1960) · E. Roditi, Dialogues on art (1960) · J. Russell and V. Russell, ‘Conversations with Henry Moore’, Sunday Times (17–24 Dec 1961) · G. Levine, With Henry Moore: the artist at work (1978) · G. Levine, Henry Moore: wood sculpture (1983) · P. Fuller, Henry Moore: an interpretation (1993) · W. Packer, Henry Moore: an illustrated biography (1985) · A. G. Wilkinson, ‘Henry Moore’, ‘Primitivism’ in twentieth-century art: affinity of the tribal and the modern, ed. W. Rubin (1984), vol. 2, pp. 595–612 · R. Melville, Henry Moore: sculpture and drawings, 1921–1969 (1970) · Celebrating Moore: works from the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation (1998) [sel. by D. Mitchinson] · D. Kosinski, ed., Henry Moore: sculpting the twentieth century (2001) · A. Garrould and V. Power, Henry Moore: tapestries (1988) · J. Hedgecoe, A monumental vision: the sculpture of Henry Moore (1998) · A. Garrould, Henry Moore drawings (1988) · Henry Moore: mother and child etchings (1988) [introduction by G. Gelburd] · D. Mitchinson, ed., Henry Moore sculpture (1981) · Henry Moore's sheep sketchbook (1980) [comments by H. Moore and K. Clark] · J. Read, Henry Moore: portrait of an artist (1979) · W. Strachan, Henry Moore: animals (1983) · Auden poems: Moore lithographs (1974) · P. Gilmour, Henry Moore: graphics in the making (1975) · Mostra di Henry Moore (1972) · D. Sylvester, Henry Moore at the Serpentine (1978) · J. Russell, The Henry Moore gift (1978) · Henry Moore: drawings, 1969–79 (1979) · Tapestry: Henry Moore and West Dean (1980) · Henry Moore: early carvings, 1920–1940 [texts by A. Garrould, T. Friedman, and D. Mitchinson] · G. Gelburd, ed., Mother and child: the art of Henry Moore (1987) · S. Compton, ed., Henry Moore (1988) · N. Lynton, Henry Moore: the human dimension (1991) · W. S. Lieberman, Henry Moore: sixty years of his art (1983) · Henry Moore at the National Gallery (1998) · Henry Moore: war and utility (2001) · Moore in the Bagatelle Gardens, Paris (1993) [exhibition catalogue]


Henry Moore Foundation Archive and Library, Hertfordshire · Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, corresp. and papers |  priv. coll., corresp. with Sir Robert Sainsbury and Lady Sainsbury, and relating to exhibitions of his works · Tate collection, corresp. with Lord Clark · Tate collection, letters to Gustav Kahnweiler and Elizabeth Kahnweiler · Tate collection, corresp. with Sir Michael Sadler · Tate collection, corresp. relating to Unit One · University of East Anglia Library, Norwich, corresp. with J. C. Pritchard · V&A, corresp. with Bernhard Baer, publisher, collographs, and papers · V&A, questionnaire completed for Kineton Parkes · W. Sussex RO, letters to Walter Hussey and related papers  



Henry Moore Foundation




Henry Moore Foundation


R. Lyon, pencil drawing, 1923, NPG · R. J. Coxon, oils, 1924, Man. City Gall. · H. Coster, photographs, 1930–39, NPG · C. Beaton, bromide print, 1940×49, NPG · W. MacQuilty, group protrait, bromide fibre print, 1943, NPG · L. Miller, modern archival-toned silver gelatin print after original negative, 1943, NPG · H. Coster, twelve negatives, 1944, NPG · B. Brandt, bromide print, 1946, NPG · N. Parkinson, bromide print, 1947, NPG · Y. Karsh, bromide print, 1949, NPG · I. Kar, eleven bromide prints, 1950–62, NPG · D. Low, pencil, in or before 1952, NPG · C. Beaton, bromide print, 1954, NPG · I. Kar, bromide print, 1954, NPG [see illus.] · M. Gerson, photograph, 1960, NPG · L. Morley, double portrait, toned bromide print, 1960×69 (with M. Marini), NPG · W. Bird, photograph, 1963, NPG · J. S. Lewinski, bromide print, 1964, NPG · M. Marini, bronze cast of head, 1969, NPG · G. Argent, two bromide prints, 1970, NPG · C. Beaton, pencil drawing, 1970×79, NPG · D. Hockney, pen-and-ink drawing, 1972, Café Royal, London · J. Fraser, wax figure, 1973, Madame Tussauds Ltd, London · Y. Karsh, bromide print, 1973, NPG · P. Joyce, two bromide prints, 1975, NPG · R. G. Clark, bromide print, 1977, NPG · F. Kormis, plaster model for medallion and bronze cast, 1978, FM Cam. · A. Newman, bromide print, 1978, NPG · A. Newman, double portrait, bromide print, 1978 (with A. Newman), NPG · H. Moore, self-portrait, charcoal, black biro, brown pastel, cartoon line, and gouache drawing, 1982, NPG · J. Hedgecoe, bromide print, NPG

Wealth at death  

£1,284,570: probate, 23 March 1987, CGPLA Eng. & Wales · most of wealth tied up in Henry Moore Foundation

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Henry Spencer Moore (1898–1986): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/39962