Catalogue entry

T02286 SEATED WOMAN: THIN NECK 1961

Not inscribed
Bronze, 67 × 32 × 40 3/4 including base (172 × 81.4 × 103.6)
Presented by the artist 1978
Exh: Henry Moore: an exhibition of sculpture and drawings, Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull, October–November 1963 (38); Henry Moore Sculpture and Drawings, New Metropole Arts Centre, Folkestone, April–May 1966 and City Art Gallery, Plymouth, June–July 1966 (1, repr.); Henry Moore Exhibition in Japan, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, August–October 1969 (49, repr.); Henry Moore, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Munich, October–November 1971 (1, repr.); The Henry Moore Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1978, repr. p.45
Lit: Herbert Read, Henry Moore, 1965, p.243 (repr. pl.233); Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture, 1966, p.278; Alan G. Wilkinson, The Moore Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1979, p.170 (original plaster repr. pl.148)
Repr: Henry Moore: Recent Work, Marlborough Fine Art, July–August 1963, no.12 in colour; Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture 1955–64, 1965, pl.116–19; John Hedgecoe and Henry Moore, Henry Moore, 1968, pp.358, 359

This work is L.H. 472; there are seven bronze casts and the original plaster is in the Moore Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario. The sculpture was based on a maquette (L.H. 471); part of which, the ‘thin neck’ of the title, was inspired by finding the breast bone of a bird.

‘Since my student days’, Moore has written, 'I have liked the shape of bones, and have drawn them, studied them in the Natural History Museum, found them on seashores and saved them out of the stewpot.

‘There are many structural, and sculptural principles to be learnt from bones, e.g. that in spite of their lightness they have great strength. Some bones, such as the breast bones of birds, have the lightweight fineness of a knife-blade. Finding such a bone led to me using this knife-edge thinness in 1961 in a sculpture “Seated Woman” (thin neck). In this figure the thin neck and head, by contrast with the width and bulk of the body, give more monumentality to the work. Later in 1961 I used this knife-edged thinness throughout a whole figure, and produced “Standing Figure.”’ (quoted in Philip James, op. cit.) The ‘Standing Figure’ referred to here is the related sculpture ‘Standing Figure: Knife-Edge’ (L.H. 482) whose clay maquette actually incorporated a bone fragment.

Since the late-1950s Moore has worked mainly from small maquettes, several of which have had as their starting-point a found stone or bone fragment. Among sculptures in the Henry Moore Gift which have originated wholly or partly in this way (according to David Sylvester in the 1968 Tate Henry Moore catalogue) are the following: T02281, T02286, T02290, T02292, T02293, T02295, T02298, T02303.

A photograph in Hedgecoe (op. cit., p.359) shows the head and shoulders of T02286 side by side with those of another, more naturalistic female figure sculpture by Moore. ‘The contrast of these two heads’, the artist comments, ‘shows that facial features are not essential for expression. With her long neck, one is distant and proud while the other is more sympathetic.’ (ibid., p.358)

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981