1956–7, cast c.1957–60
650 x 1540 x 850 mm
Presented by the artist 1978
In an edition of 10 plus 1 artist’s copy
Technique and condition
The base was cast separately, probably using the sand casting method. It is textured on the top and sides through a combination of techniques that appear to have involved applying some textile to the surface of the original model for the base, and then scratching a series of parallel lines into the mould itself so that these scratches appear in the final cast as raised lines (fig.4). The figure is attached to the base through bolts inserted from the underside through the right hand, left foot and shield.
The sculpture was artificially patinated using a range of chemical solutions that reacted with bronze to produce coloured compounds (fig.5). The first colour to be applied would have been a light transparent brown colour, often produced by using a solution of potassium polysulphide (or ‘liver of sulphur’). Following this, the more opaque green colour would have been applied over the top. Many different patina recipes can be used to produce green colours on bronzes but they often contain mixtures of copper and ammonium salts. The cold solution was probably stippled using a brush. Each successive application would be left to dry and develop to build up the opaque green colour. The green would then be rubbed back slightly at high points in order to highlight and give depth to the surface texture. The sculpture would then have been waxed with a clear wax to consolidate and protect the patina.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', October 2011, in Alice Correia, ‘Falling Warrior 1956–7, cast c.1957–60 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, February 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
The head is represented by an oval disk, which is pierced by a single hole that creates a short tunnel linking the left and right sides of the face (fig.2). This hole appears to denote the eyes of the figure, but no other facial features have been represented apart from a slight upwards curve that distinguishes the chin from the neck.
The base colour of the sculpture is a very dark brown-black, on top of which green and brown shades have been applied. These green and brown colours have been used to highlight and accentuate certain areas of the sculpture. For example, the ridge of the face, the right shoulder and the top of the belly all have a golden-brown shine to highlight these exposed outer areas (fig.4). In contrast, the underside of the left arm and the inner right thigh are tinged with green. The surface of the bronze is highly textured with lines and scratches. In some instances, such as on the shins and the right forearm, the lines run along the limb accentuating its length and suggest directional movement.
However, it was from this small maquette that Falling Warrior was nonetheless developed, and the next stage in Moore’s creative process was to enlarge the plaster maquette to its full size. A series of at least five black and white photographs, probably taken by Moore himself, document the development of the plaster sculpture from different angles and have been published in a number of books to illustrate the evolution of the work (see fig.6).1 In conversation with Tate researcher Richard Calvocoressi on 12 December 1980, Moore reflected that these photographs ‘often appeared more directly expressive of his intentions than the finished sculpture’.2 In his 1981 catalogue entry for the work, Calvocoressi explained that ‘there were occasions such as this when he [Moore] would have liked to have taken a cast of the work in progress’.3
Sleeping Positions 1941 (fig.9) was drawn during the Second World War while Moore was working as an Official War Artist. It is part of his series of Shelter Drawings commissioned by the War Artists Committee, and depicts people – predominantly mothers and children – taking refuge from German aerial bombardment in the tunnels of the London Underground. However, the drawing differs from Moore’s other Shelter Drawings in which sleeping bodies are depicted tightly packed within the claustrophobic spaces. Presented in what appears to be an outside landscape, Sleeping Positions features eight lying figures, in various poses, each with different limbs covered and uncovered with blankets and illustrates how Moore was developing his repertoire of prostrate bodies. While the figure in the lower left of the page is presented with breasts, the other figures appear not to be gender specific. According to the art historian Frances Carey, the angular, twisted figures found in Sleeping Positions reappear in the later drawing Death of the Suitors 1944, itself a recognised precursor to Moore’s warrior series.18
Moore’s The Death of the Suitors 1944 (fig.11) was one of a series of drawings created to illustrate Edward Sackville-West’s play The Rescue. The play was based on Homer’s Odyssey and Moore’s image depicts the aftermath of Odysseus’s rampage when, on returning home after fighting in the ten-year Trojan War, he kills the 108 suitors courting his wife Penelope. In 1970 the art critic Robert Melville regarded the male suitors in the drawing as studies for sculptures, suggesting that the violent scene ‘presents a fascinating spectacle of terracottas dying in a blood-red room’.21 Between 1949 and 1950 Moore also worked on lithographs for André Gide’s translation of Goethe’s Prometheus, itself based on Aeschylus’s ancient tragedy Prometheus Bound.22 The curator David Mitchinson has remarked that in these lithographs, as in The Death of the Suitors, ‘male flesh is perceived as being just as vulnerable as female’.23
In late February 1951 Moore made his first and only visit to Greece to attend the opening of his solo exhibition at the Zappeion Gallery in Athens. Although as a student Moore had rejected classical Greek sculpture and the traditional aesthetic doctrines that he then believed it stood for, he was nonetheless excited by the prospect of visiting the country’s ancient sites. At the age of fifty-two, Moore was struck by the light of Greece and the theatricality of its ancient monuments. He wrote to Kenneth Clark stating, ‘the Acropolis is wonderful – more marvellous than ever I imagined – The Parthenon against a blue sky – the sunlight + the scale it gets against the distant mountains can’t be given by any photograph – It’s the greatest thrill I’ve ever had’.27 The trip had a profound effect on him and in an interview of 1961 Moore recalled:
In discussions of Falling Warrior very few commentators have deviated from the triumvirate of Moore’s interest in classical Greek sculpture and mythology, the memory of war, and the fragility of humanity. However, in 1968 the critic John Russell proposed an additional source and interpretation. He suggested that ‘The Falling Warrior adopts ... a pose that in another context might signify the extremes of sexual fulfillment: and the fulfillment, what is more, of a beautiful woman. This element of sexual ambiguity heightens the strangeness [of the sculpture] which does not, in any case, have anything to do with Greece. Moore here seems to be close to Rodin’.50 In the 1968 edition of Russell’s book a photograph of Falling Warrior is positioned opposite an image of Auguste Rodin’s The Martyr 1899 (fig.17).51 Rodin’s sculpture presents a bony, awkward, female figure lying on her left side, with her left arm falling limply off the edge of the base on which the sculpture is positioned. The figure’s right leg and left foot are suspended in the air, as if caught in the act of falling. The Martyr has been interpreted as being symbolic of the agony and ecstasy of love, as though wounded by love but nonetheless sexually fulfilled.52 The formal similarities between Falling Warrior and Rodin’s The Martyr probably encouraged Russell’s interpretation of Moore’s sculpture, despite and because Moore included a penis in his figurative representation. As art historian Norbert Lynton has observed, Moore generally ‘eschewed sexual motifs in his sculpture’ and sought to avoid ‘exciting thoughts of sexual activity or potentialities in his sculpture’.53 The inclusion of male genitals in Falling Warrior was unusual in Moore’s work and the presence of a penis may well have encouraged the sexualised readings he usually shunned.
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Falling Warrior 1956–7, cast c.1957–60 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, February 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www