Henry Moore OM, CH

Relief No.1


Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Object: 2219 x 1251 x 498 mm
Presented by the artist 1978

Not on display

Catalogue entry


Relief No.1 1959 is a tall bronze relief sculpture, which when seen from the front comprises a relatively flat rear plane capped with a triangular point, from which various rounded and angular forms project. As a whole, the configuration of these forms loosely outlines the shape of a standing human figure divided into three distinct sections: the head and shoulders at the top, the central abdomen, and two legs cut off at the knees at the bottom. Sharp recessions between these sections interrupt the continuous evocation of a body in space, although the fact that the figure appears to lean to one side, with its right leg projecting further than the left, gives the impression that it is stepping forward. The depth of the sculptural relief identifies it as a mezzo relief, for around half of the volume of the figure projects from the surface. Unlike most relief sculptures, which are designed to be integrated into walls and only be seen from one side, Relief No.1 is a free-standing sculpture.

The neck and head of the figure are denoted by a vertical, semi-cylindrical shaft with a domed top, which tapers down into a rounded, almost horizontal shelf representing the shoulders (fig.1). When seen from the front the shoulders slope slightly upwards from left to right, where a rounded swelling may outline the top of an upper arm. Below the shoulders, occupying the position of the abdomen, is a more angular protrusion made up of sharper, irregular shaped surfaces and a thin disc-like appendage that juts out from the surface at a right angle (fig.2).

From clay to plaster to bronze

Sources and development

The Henry Moore Gift

Alice Correia
April 2013


Henry Moore cited in David Sylvester, ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 7 June 1963, transcript of Third Programme, BBC Radio, broadcast 14 July 1963, p.18, Tate Archive TGA 200816. (An edited version of this interview was published in the Listener, 29 August 1963, pp.305–7.)
Julie Summers, ‘Fragment of Maquette for King and Queen’, in Claude Allemand-Cosneau, Manfred Fath and David Mitchinson (eds.), Henry Moore From the Inside Out: Plasters, Carvings and Drawings, Munich 1996, p.126.
James Copper in conversation with the author, July 2013.
Moore compared Relief No.2 with Relief No.1 in a conversation with the photographer John Hedgecoe in 1968: ‘Of these two I only cast one into bronze because I was dissatisfied with the other. The plaster one [Relief No.2] has not yet satisfied me. The projecting parts are too evenly spread and too evenly apportioned throughout the figure. There is no obvious focal point. In the bronze sculpture you know the middle and you know where the shoulders are. It has a centre, a kernel, and an organic logic.’ See John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.391.
Henry Moore sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
[Richard Calvocoressi], ‘T.2281, Three Motives Against Wall No.2’, The Tate Gallery 1978–80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.126.
Alan G. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.187.
[Richard Calvocoressi], ‘T.2284, Relief No.1’, The Tate Gallery 1978–80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.127.
John Russell, Henry Moore, London 1968, p.178.
‘Henri Matisse, Back IV 1930, cast 1955–6’, display caption, Tate, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/matisse-back-iv-t00082/text-display-caption, accessed 12 April 2013.
Norman Reid, letter to Henry Moore, 23 May 1956, Tate Public Records TG 1/6/36. Moore is known to have admired Matisse’s sculptural work. See John and Vera Russell, ‘Moore Explains His Universal Shapes’, New York Times Magazine, 11 November 1962, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.123.
Will Grohmann, The Art of Henry Moore, London 1960, p.232.
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of his Life and Work, London 1965, p.224.
John Russell, Henry Moore, London 1973, p.201.
See ‘Note on the Henry Moore Gift’, 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the exhibition’s records; see Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
Norman Reid, letter to Mary Danowski, 31 August 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.

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