Henry Moore OM, CH

Grey Tube Shelter

1940

Medium
Watercolour, gouache, ink and chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 279 x 381 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946
Reference
N05706

Display caption

One evening in autumn 1940, Moore
took cover from an air raid in Belsize Park underground station. Looking around
at the people sheltering there, he became 'fascinated by the sight of people camping out deep under ground'. On returning
to his studio he made some drawings from memory. When Kenneth Clark, chairman
of the War Artists Advisory Committee,
saw the pictures he commissioned
further drawings and appointed Moore
as an official war artist.

 

These drawings were exhibited for the first time in 1941. They were often interpreted
as metaphors for the stoic resistance
of the British people in the face of war.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N05706 GREY TUBE SHELTER 1940

Inscr. ‘Moore 40’ b.r.
Pen, chalk, wash and gouache, 11×15 (28×38).
Presented by the War Artists' Advisory Committee 1946.
Exh: National War Pictures, National Gallery, 1943; British Council, Contemporary British Art, Cairo and Algiers, 1945 (42); Wakefield and Manchester, April–July 1949 (92).
Repr: Read, 1944, pl.172b.

N05706N05713 are examples of Moore's drawings of Londoners sheltering from the air raids of 1940–2, mainly in underground stations, done in his capacity as an Official War Artist. His first studies, which were begun before the official commission (see letter reprinted in Sweeney, 1946, pp.67–8), were drawn from memory in the two Shelter Sketch-Books now in the possession of Sir Kenneth Clark and Mrs Irina Moore (a selection from these was published by Editions Poetry London, 1944); some of the drawings of shelterers are juxtaposed with sketches of sculptural figures. The artist has said that the pervading theme of the shelter drawings was the group sense of communion in apprehension; a hint of this mood was retained in the sculptured group ‘Three Standing Figures’ of 1947–8, now in Battersea Park (repr. Read and Sylvester, I, 1957, p.166) (talk recorded for British Council, 1955). The depiction of drapery in these drawings was taken up again on the Time-Life Building ‘Reclining Figure’ of 1952–3 (repr. Read, 11, 1955, No.62).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II