Henry Moore OM, CH

Half-Figure

1932

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Armenian marble
Dimensions
Object: 686 x 381 x 279 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by E.C. Gregory 1959
Reference
T00241

Display caption

In 1932, the year he carved this, Moore was appointed Head of Sculpture at Chelsea School of Art. The pose of this figure is reminiscent of earlier carved portrait busts, but the abstracted treatment of the forms indicate Moore's interest in non-western art. In later life Moore wrote of his admiration for an Egyptian sculpture of a seated woman in the British Museum collections. He particularly enjoyed the way her head-dress was 'freed from the body so that you can look through its arches to the delicate neck inside'. In this sculpture Moore has created a similar effect by making a space between the figure's hair and her neck.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Entry

Henry Moore’s sculpture Half-Figure 1932 was carved in grey marble and presents the head, torso and arms of an adolescent girl. Cut at the waist, the nude female figure wraps her arms around her body, with her right hand cupping the side of her left breast, and her left hand supporting her right elbow. Her head is almost round and turns to the right, and her face is tilted so that her chin is slightly raised and her eyes look upwards. Her glance is alert, which suggests a sense of purpose and agency. She has thin and pinched or pursed lips, and her upturned nose is formed in the shape of a tetrahedron with two round shallow indents denoting nostrils. The concave eye sockets are each punctuated by a slightly raised area denoting the eyes. Each eye is illustrated with almond shaped incised lines, circles denoting the iris and a small round hole denoting the pupil. Eyebrows are rendered as a ridge that demarcates the concave orbits of the eyes, curving across the top of each eye and around the sides of the face, terminating at the cheekbones. The features of the face appear to have been pinched together and seem disproportionately small in proportion to the size of the face. She has a high forehead and spacious, smooth cheeks, a wide jaw-line and a large chin. Oval shaped ears have been carved in shallow relief, with a reversed C-shape denoting the ear canal. A slightly raised hairline can be discerned across the girl’s forehead, while her hair has been carved as though in a ponytail, which is gathered at the back of her head. When viewed from the side, it is clear that Moore carved a gap between the back of the girl’s neck and the hair, which falls parallel to her neck and merges with her left shoulder.
The figure’s shoulders are broad but asymmetrical, with the right slightly higher that the left, which is slightly longer. The breastbone is concave and the torso is tubular with two pert, small breasts. Nipples and areolas are represented by two incised concentric circles. Seen from the rear, the shoulders appear powerful although her upper arms are thin. The upper part of the right arm is held against the side of the torso, while the upper part of the left arm is held away from the body and bends at the elbow, which rests on the plinth. Although the fingers on both hands have been individually suggested, they are nonetheless conjoined, rendering the hands mitten-like.

Alice Correia
January 2013

Notes

1
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 Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.191.
2
Ibid., p.192
3
Herbert Read, ‘A Nest of Gentle Artists’, Apollo, September 1962, pp.536–40. For discussion on the interactions of this group of artists see also Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson in the 1930s: A Nest of Gentle Artists, exhibition catalogue, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Norwich 2009.
4
John Skeaping, Half-Length Figure of a Woman, c.1929–30 (location unknown), reproduced in John Skeaping 1901–1980: A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Arthur Ackermann & Son, London 1991, p.10.
5
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: Sculptor, London 1934, p.15.
6
Anon., ‘Art Exhibitions’, Times, 4 November 1933, p.8.
7
Ibid., p.8.
8
Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London 1960, p.29.
9
Susan Compton, ‘Catalogue’, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1988, p.178.
10
Ibid., p.178.
11
See Charles Harrison, English Art and Modernism, 1981, revised edn, New Haven and London 1994, p.229; Sophie Bowness, ‘Modernist Stone Carving in England and “The Big View of Sculpture”’ in Carving Mountains: Modern Stone Sculpture in England 1907–37, exhibition catalogue, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge 1998, p.35; Jon Wood, ‘Gods, Graves and Sculptors: Gudea, Sumerian Sculpture and the Avant-Garde, c.1930–1935’, Sculpture Journal, no.10, 2003, pp.67–82.
12
For further discussion on primitivism see Colin Rhodes, Primitivism and Modern Art, London 1994.
13
Christopher Green, ‘Expanding the Canon: Roger Fry’s Evaluations of the “Civilized” and the “Savage”’, in Christopher Green (ed.), Art Made Modern: Roger Fry's Vision of Art, exhibition catalogue, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London 1999, p.126.
14
Henry Moore cited in James Johnson Sweeney, ‘Henry Moore’, Partisan Review, March–April 1947, p.182, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.44.
15
See catalogue entries for Mask 1928 (Tate T06696) and Mask 1929 (Tate T03762).
16
See Henry Moore, ‘Primitive Art’, Listener, 24 April 1941, pp.598–9, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, pp.102–6.
17
Henry Moore, ‘On Carving’, New English Weekly, 5 May 1932, pp.65–6, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.190.
18
Anne Wagner, Mother Stone: The Vitality of Modern British Sculpture, New Haven and London 2005, p.20.
19
Henry Moore, ‘Mesopotamian Art’, foreword to Lucienne Laroche, The Middle East, London 1974, pp.7–8, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.109.
20
For an in-depth discussion of Moore’s access to Sumerian sculpture see Wood 2003, pp.67–82.
21
Henry Moore, ‘Mesopotamian Art’, Listener, 5 June 1935, pp.944–6, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.101.
22
Ibid., p.101.
23
Henry Moore, The Artist’s Hand, Much Hadham 1980, cited in Anita Feldman and Malcolm Woodward, Henry Moore: Plasters, London 2011, p.66.
24
Henry Moore, ‘A Sculptor Speaks’, Listener, 19 August 1937, pp.338–40, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.195.
25
Ibid., p.196.
26
Compton 1988, p.179.
27
In 1984 scholarship endorsed by the British Museum argued that this Egyptian statuette of Queen Tetisheri was a forgery, probably made shortly before 1890 for the European market for antiquities. However, this information does not diminish the importance Moore placed on this work. See http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=120863&partId=1&searchText=Limestone%20statue%20of%20Tetisheri%20enthroned, accessed 10 January 2013.
28
Henry Moore, Henry Moore at the British Museum, London 1981, p.28.
29
Compton 1988, p.179.
30
Penelope Curtis, ‘British Modernist Sculptors and Italy’, British Artists in Italy 1920–1980, exhibition catalogue, Canterbury College of Art, Canterbury 1985, p.13.
31
Henry Moore, letter to William Rothenstein, 12 March 1925, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.53.
32
Kenneth Clark, Piero della Francesca, London 1951, p.2.
33
Henry Moore, ‘The Hidden Struggle’, Observer, 24 November 1957, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, pp.118–19.
34
See Jane B. Drew, ‘Obituary: Mr. E.C. Gregory’, Times, 14 February 1959, p.10.
35
Henry Moore, ‘Obituary: Mr. E.C. Gregory’, Times, 19 February 1959, p.12.
36
See 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).
37
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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