Catalogue entry


Inscribed ‘Moore 0/7’ on back of figure b.l. and stamped with foundry mark ‘GUSS: H. NOACK BERLIN’ on back of figure b.l.
Bronze, 66 5/8 × 110 1/4 × 58 3/4 including base (169.3 × 280.1 × 136.6)
Presented by the artist 1978
Exh: Henry Moore, Arts Council, Tate Gallery, July–September 1968 (122, repr.); Henry Moore Bronzes 1961–1970, Marlborough Gallery, New York, April–May 1970 (3, repr. in colour); Henry Moore Sculptures et Dessins, Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, May–August 1977 (100, repr.); Henry Moore 80th Birthday Exhibition, Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, April–June 1978 (10, repr. in colour); The Henry Moore Gift, Tate Gallery, June–August 1978, repr. p.47
Lit: Extracts from a BBC radio interview with David Sylvester, reproduced in Henry Moore: Recent Work, Marlborough Fine Art, July–August 1963, n.p. (13, colour); Herbert Read, Henry Moore, 1965, pp.229–32 (repr. pl.218); John Russell, Henry Moore, 1968, p.187 (repr. pl.196); David Sylvester, catalogue of Henry Moore, Tate Gallery, 1968, pp.93–4 (repr. pl.40, 41); Alan G. Wilkinson, catalogue of The Drawings of Henry Moore, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and Tate Gallery, 1977, p.133, no.228 (repr. fig.62); Alan G. Wilkinson, The Moore Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1979, p.178 (original plaster repr. pl.158)
Repr: Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture 1955–64, 1965, pl.141–8

This sculpture is the first of the two three-piece reclining figures which Moore made between 1961 and 1963; the other is T02292. This work is L.H. 500; there are in all eight bronzes including the artist's (the Tate's cast) and the original plaster is in the Moore Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario.

The principal source of information for the three-piece figures is Moore's 1963 interview with David Sylvester. In the course of the interview the artist discusses the origins of the sculptures in found objects such as bones (Moore had by this time stopped working from drawings) which might sometimes be incorporated unchanged into hand-size plaster maquettes or sketch-models. In T02289 the middle piece was suggested by a vertebra which, Moore said, he found in his garden: ‘... the connection of one piece through to the other is the kind of connection that a backbone will have with one section through to the next section. But they've been separated. It's as though you've left the slipped disc out of them, but it's there.’ (Sylvester-Moore, op.cit.)

Asked about the difference between the two- and three-piece reclining figures, Moore explained: ‘The two-piece sculptures pose a problem like the kind of relationship between two people. And it's very different once you divide a thing into three: then you have two ends and a middle. In the two-piece you have just the head end and the body end or the head end and the leg end, but once you get the three-piece you have the middle and the two ends, and this became something that I wanted to do, having done the two-piece. I tried several little ideas before this one and what led me to this solution was finding a little piece of bone that was the middle of a vertebra, and I realised then that perhaps the connection through, of one piece to another, could have gone on and made a four- or five-piece, like a snake with its vertebrae right through from one end to the other. But three is enough to make the difference from two. That is what one tried to make: it is a connecting-piece carrying through from one end to the other like you might have with a snake. In a way, the more pieces you make, the easier it is. If you made a figure of ten pieces, then this dividing up would become a formula. The problem probably is more difficult when you're dividing into two only than if you divide it into three. Certainly it would be easier in four or five, so that there comes a certain stage where the problem has its maximum exhilaration for you to solve, and I think probably a three-piece is as much as one would want to attempt.’ (ibid.)

Wilkinson (op. cit., 1979) finds the landscape elements of ‘Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 1’ ‘so strong and dominant as almost completely to overpower the minimal figurative references.’ In the interview with Sylvester, Moore said that the landscapes which had most influenced his work were those of his childhood - in particular, the slag heaps of Castleford and Adel Rock outside Leeds.

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