Henry Moore OM, CH Figure 1931

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Figure
Date 1931
Medium Beech
Dimensions Object: 248 x 178 x 121 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1959
Reference
T00240
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1930

Catalogue entry

Entry

Figure is a small sculpture in dark, auburn-coloured beech wood presented on an oval base. It represents a female head and torso, cut at the waist, with a conical protrusion where facial features would usually be expected. Seen from the side, the head and neck appear to be straining forward, which emphasises the concave area of the chest. In front of this hollowed space are two upward pointing breasts, which appear to have swelled from below, but which could also be construed as knees drawn up to the chest.1 The tip of each one points in opposing directions creating a v-shaped cleavage between them. Below is a recessed arched cavity akin to a doorway. There are no incisions on the surface of the sculpture, which is uniformly smooth and polished, but there are a few cracks in the surface of the wood, and three round holes have been filled on the front of the sculpture.
Photographer Unknown
Fig.1
Photographer Unknown
1932 Henry and Irina Moore in the studio at 11a Parkhill Road, London
© Henry Moore Foundation

Although the location and circumstances in which Figure was carved are unconfirmed, it is likely that it was created at Moore’s studio at 11a Parkhill Road in Hampstead, London. A photograph taken in 1932 of Moore and his wife Irina in this studio shows the completed Figure on a four-legged stool in the mirror, to the left of Irina’s reflection (fig.1).
Henry Moore 'Figure' 1930
Fig.2
Henry Moore
Figure 1930
© The Henry Moore Foundation, All Rights Reserved, DACS 2014
Moore carved the sculpture in beech, a hard and close-grained wood, which is best carved when it is freshly cut (when it is green) as it hardens over time. The beech tree is indigenous to Britain, so Moore would have had little difficulty acquiring a block for carving, although prior to Figure he had only carved one other sculpture in beech, Figure 1930 (fig.2). In 1983 Moore reflected on the properties of the wood:

Sir Michael Sadler and Peter Gregory

Alice Correia
January 2013

1
The dual identification of the forms as breasts and knees is based on Moore’s use of the double peaked form to represents the knees of the female figure in Family Group 1949 (Tate N06004).
2
Henry Moore cited in Gemma Levine, Henry Moore: Wood Sculpture, London 1983, pp.20–3, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, London 2002, p.225.
3
Henry Moore, ‘Statement for Unit One’, in Herbert Read (ed.), Unit One: The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, London 1934, pp.29–30, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.191 (Moore’s italics).
4
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: Sculptor, London 1934, p.9.
5
As curator Nicholas Thornton explains, these excursions provided a ‘friendly yet competitive environment, combined with the opportunity to share and develop ideas’. Nicholas Thornton, ‘Introduction’, in Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson in the 1930s: A Nest of Gentle Artists, exhibition catalogue, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Norwich 2009, p.2.
6
Henry Moore cited in Arnold Haskell, ‘On Carving’, New English Weekly, 5 May 1932, p.65–6, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.189.
7
Anon., ‘Art Exhibitions’, Times, 4 November 1933, p.8.
8
Moore cited in Haskell 1932, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.190.
9
Andrew Causey, ‘Herbert Read and Contemporary Art’, in David Goodway, Herbert Read Reassessed, London 1998, p.127.
10
Moore 1934, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.192.
11
Moore cited in Haskell 1932, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.189.
12
The four studies on the upper right of this page have been connected to Moore’s sculpture in Cumberland alabaster, Composition 1931 (Henry Moore Foundation). See Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 2: Complete Drawings 1930–39, London 1998, p.36.
13
See Alan Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.71.
14
See Garrould 1998, p.31.
15
Read, Henry Moore: Sculptor, 1934, p.15.
16
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of his Life and Work, London 1965, p.104.
17
John Russell, Henry Moore, London 1973, p.53.
18
Geoffrey Grigson, ‘Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson’, Bookman, vol.85, no.506, November 1933, p.106.
19
Ibid., p.106.
20
Ibid., p.106.
21
Moore 1934, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.192.
22
Geoffrey Grigson, ‘A Comment on England’, Axis, no.1, January 1935, p.10, quoted in Jennifer Mundy, ‘Comment on England’ in Chris Stephens (ed.), Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2010, p.22.
23
Mundy 2010, p.28.
24
Ibid., p.28.
25
Moore 1934, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.192.
26
See Christopher Green, ‘Henry Moore and Picasso’ in James Beechy and Chris Stephens (eds.), Picasso and Modern British Art, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2012, p.139.
27
Mundy 2010, p.32.
28
Christa Lichtenstern, Henry Moore: Work-Theory-Impact, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London 2008, p.49.
29
For a facsimile of Documents, vol.2, no.3, 1930, see http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k32951f.image, accessed 30 July 2012.
30
Henry Moore, ‘Interview with Elizabeth Blunt’, Kaleidoscope, radio programme, broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 April 1973, transcript reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.167. For discussions of the debt Moore owed to Picasso see Herbert Read, Modern Sculpture, London 1964, pp.168–73, and Lichtenstern 2008, pp.47–52.
31
Green 2012, p.131.
32
Russell 1973, pp.53, 55.
33
Anne Wagner, Mother Stone: The Vitality of Modern British Sculpture, New Haven and London 2005, p.24.
34
For a digital copy of Island, vol.1, no.1, June 1931, see http://www.fulltable.com/vts/i/island/a.htm, accessed 30 July 2012.
35
Josef Bard, ‘To the Reader’, Island, vol.1, no.1, June 1931, p.1.
36
Christopher Neve, Leon Underwood, London 1974, p.135.
37
Leon Underwood, ‘The Cathedral’, Island, vol.1, no.1, June 1931, p.4.
38
Ibid.
39
Neve 1974, p.138.
40
Henry Moore, letter to Martin Butlin, 11 June 1959, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23942.
41
Henry Moore cited in Donald Carroll, The Donald Carroll Interviews, London 1973, p.35, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.44.
43
Henry J. Seldis, Henry Moore in America, New York 1973, p.36.
44
Oliver Brown, letter to Martin Butler, 29 April 1959, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23942.
45
See Jane B. Drew, ‘Obituary: Mr. E.C. Gregory’, Times, 14 February 1959, p.10.
46
Henry Moore, ‘Obituary: Mr. E.C. Gregory’, Times, 19 February 1959, p.12.
47
Reg Butler, Study for Woman Resting 1950 (Tate T00263); Anthony Caro, Woman Waking Up 1955 (Tate T00264); Hubert Dalwood, Standing Draped Figure 1954 (Tate T00266); and Eduardo Paolozzi, Shattered Head 1956 (Tate T00273).
48
See Report of the Trustees for the Year 1 April 1959 to 31 March 1960, Tate Gallery, London 1960, p.7.

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