Henry Moore OM, CH Half-figure 1932

Catalogue entry

Technique and condition:
Detail of Half-Figure 1932 showing incised eyes, drilled nostrils and mouth
Tate © The Henry Moore Foundation, All Rights Reserved, DACS 2014
This sculpture presents the head and nude torso of a girl and is carved from grey Armenian marble. The surface has a smooth polished finish, and features incised lines and drilled holes denoting details such as the eyes, hair, nipples and thumbnails (fig.1). The sculpture does not have a base and rests directly on the plinth with only a very slight chamfer around the lower edge, possibly to prevent chipping during handling or to make a distinct line where the sculpture rests. A similar chamfered edge is seen on Moore’s sculpture Girl 1931 (Tate N06078).
Photographer unknown 'Henry Moore at work in the studio at 11a Parkhill Road, London' 1932
Photographer unknown
Henry Moore at work in the studio at 11a Parkhill Road, London 1932
© Henry Moore Foundation
Photographs from Moore’s studio show that Half-Figure was originally displayed on a thick wooden oval base, possibly about ten centimetres deep (fig.2). However, by the time Tate acquired the sculpture this base had become damaged and was not subsequently shown with the work.
Moore carved the sculpture from a single block of marble. The form would have been roughed out using a hammer and chisels before being worked with progressively smaller chisel sizes to carve the finer details. Pierced areas at the back of the neck and at the girl’s left elbow may have been made using a drill. Eventually the shapes would have been smoothed with a range of files before being sanded and polished to give the final smooth finish.
There is no inscription but there is a small purple ink stamp on the base of the sculpture, approximately fifteen millimetres in diameter. The stamp may have contained letters but these are not clear enough to read. A similar stamp is seen on the underside of Moore’s Recumbent Figure 1938 (Tate N05387). It is likely that these stamps were applied after completion but it is not clear what they signify.

Lyndsey Morgan
October 2011

How to cite

Lyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', October 2011, in Alice Correia, ‘Half-Figure 1932 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, January 2013, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, May 2012, https://localhost8080/art/research/content/1146178?project=2, accessed 30 August 2014.

Alice Correia
January 2013


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, London 2002, p.191.
Ibid., p.192
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.
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.
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: Sculptor, London 1934, p.15.
Anon., ‘Art Exhibitions’, Times, 4 November 1933, p.8.
Ibid., p.8.
WillGrohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London 1960, p.29.
Susan Compton, ‘Catalogue’, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1988, p.178.
Ibid., p.178.
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.
For further discussion on primitivism see Colin Rhodes, Primitivism and Modern Art, London 1994.
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.
Henry Moore cited in James Johnson Sweeny, ‘Henry Moore’, Partisan Review, March–April 1947, p.182, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.44.
See catalogue entries for Mask 1928 (Tate T06696) and Mask 1929 (Tate T03762).
See Henry Moore, ‘Primitive Art’, Listener, 24 April 1941, pp.598–9, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, pp.102–6.
Henry Moore, ‘On Carving’, New English Weekly, 5 May 1932, pp.65–6, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.190.
Anne Wagner, Mother Stone: The Vitality of Modern British Sculpture, New Haven and London 2005, p.20.
Henry Moore, ‘Mesopotamian Art’, foreword to Lucienne Laroche, The Middle East, London 1974, pp.7–8, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.109.
For an in-depth discussion of Moore’s access to Sumerian sculpture see Wood 2003, pp.67–82.
Henry Moore, ‘Mesopotamian Art’, Listener, 5 June 1935, pp.944–6, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.101.
Ibid., p.101.
Henry Moore, The Artist’s Hand, Much Hadham 1980, cited in Anita Feldman and Malcolm Woodward, Henry Moore: Plasters, London 2011, p.66.
Henry Moore, ‘A Sculptor Speaks’, Listener, 19 August 1937, pp.338–40, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.195.
Ibid., p.196.
Compton 1988, p.179.
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.
Henry Moore, Henry Moore at the British Museum, London 1981, p.28.
Compton 1988, p.179.
Penelope Curtis, ‘British Modernist Sculptors and Italy’, British Artists in Italy 1920–1980, exhibition catalogue, Canterbury College of Art, Canterbury 1985, p.13.
Henry Moore, letter to William Rothenstein, 12 March 1925, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.53.
Kenneth Clark, Piero della Francesca, London 1951, p.2.
Henry Moore, ‘The Hidden Struggle’, Observer, 24 November 1957, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, pp.118–19.
See Jane B. Drew, ‘Obituary: Mr. E.C. Gregory’, Times, 14 February 1959, p.10.
Henry Moore, ‘Obituary: Mr. E.C. Gregory’, Times, 19 February 1959, p.12.
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).
See Report of the Trustees for the Year 1 April 1959 to 31 March 1960, Tate Gallery, London 1960, p.7.