Henry Moore OM, CH

Draped Reclining Woman

1957–8, cast date unknown

Not on display

Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
1346 × 2083 × 914 mm
Presented by Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler 1974, accessioned 1994


Draped Reclining Woman was made in an edition of six casts (of which this is number two) plus an artist’s proof. Other casts are in the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich, the Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, and the Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena. The plaster working model is in the collection of the Henry Moore Sculpture Center, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

The reclining figure was a recurring theme in Moore’s work. The artist liked its compositional and spatial freedom, as well as its ability to express repose. Moreover, he stated: ‘A reclining figure can recline on any surface. It is free and stable at the same time. It fits in with my belief that sculpture should be permanent, should last for eternity.’ (Quoted in Henry Moore, 1987, p.6.) The classicising drapery covering this large reclining figure lends an air of timelessness to a sculpture which is nevertheless resolutely modern. At the same time, its rough texture and numerous creases – sinking and protruding, at times fine and delicate and at others large and heavy – call to mind the uneven furrows and mounds of a hilly landscape. Moore compared the folds of drapery, when seen close-up, to the forms of mountains which, he said, ‘are the crinkled skin of the earth.’ (Quoted in Henry Moore, 1987, p.6.)

Moore’s interest in drapery as a sculptural element dates back to the Second World War when, as an official ‘war artist’, he made drawings of people huddled in the bomb shelters that had been improvised in London’s Underground tunnels. His first visit to Greece in 1951, where he saw classical studies of draped figures, strengthened this interest and, as a result, he made a number of figures wearing draped clothing throughout the 1950s. Moore came to believe that drapery can make the shape of a figure both more expressive and more sculptural. In 1954 he stated, ‘Drapery can emphasise the tension in a figure, for where the form pushes outwards ... it can be pulled tight across the form (almost like a bandage), and by contrast with the crumpled slackness of the drapery which lies between the salient points, the pressure from inside is intensified.’ (Quoted in Wilkinson, 2002, p.280.)

Further reading:
Henry Moore: Maquettes and Working Models, exhibition catalogue, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City 1987
Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.239.
Giorgia Bottinelli, ‘Henry Moore’, in Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004, pp.82-7, reproduced p.87 in colour

Giorgia Bottinelli
March 2004

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Catalogue entry


Draped Reclining Woman 1957–8 is a larger than life-size bronze sculpture of a reclining female figure whose bulky torso sits upright, facing forwards, while her legs extend horizontally to her left (fig.1). The figure is proportioned irregularly, possessing a small head relative to the size of her body and unnaturally long legs. Much of her weight is placed on her almost vertical right arm, her buttocks and her right thigh, all of which rest on the base, while her left arm rests gently on top of her left thigh. The woman wears a sleeveless, knee length dress, which appears to cling to her body, creating crinkles and ripples across her chest while deeper grooves and ridges traverse her legs and dip between her thighs.

Two evenly spaced circular depressions on the figure’s face denote eyes, in between which a slight notch delineates the tip of her nose (fig.2). The figure has a high forehead and her hair has been rendered through a series of overlapping craggy masses at the rear of the head (fig.3). When seen from the rear it is evident that the woman has a very broad torso and large buttocks (fig.4). From this angle the shape of the right thigh can be seen beneath the fabric of the skirt, which has been pulled taught, indicating that the legs are slightly parted. Her bare knees, shins and feet are placed almost horizontally and there is a gap between her two calves. Her ankles have little definition and the inner edge of the left foot balances on top of the right (fig.5).

Origins and contexts

Initial display and reception

The Kahnweiler Gift

Alice Correia
December 2013


See Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 4: Complete Drawings 1950–76, London 2003, p.119.
Alan Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.179.
Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 7 June 1963, transcript of Third Programme, broadcast BBC Radio, 14 July 1963, pp.8–9, Tate Archive TGA 200816. (An edited version of this interview was published in the Listener, 29 August 1963, pp.305–7.)
Henry Moore, ‘Sculpture in the Open Air: A Talk by Henry Moore on his Sculpture and its Placing in Open-Air Sites’, 1955, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.280.
Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 1963, p.4.
Henry Moore cited in J.D. Morse, ‘Henry Moore Comes to America’, Magazine of Art, vol.40, no.3, March 1947, pp.97–101, reprinted in Philip James (ed.), Henry Moore on Sculpture, London 1966, p.264.
Henry Moore cited in John Russell, Henry Moore, 1968, revised edn, London 1973, p.48.
Henry Moore cited in Hew Wheldon (ed.), Monitor: An Anthology, London 1962, pp.21–2, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.147.
Alan Wilkinson, The Drawings of Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1977, p.52.
Erich Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London 1959, p.31.
Ibid., pp.31–2.
Ibid., p.32.
Ibid., p.124.
Henry Moore quoted in Sculpture in the Open Air, exhibition catalogue, Holland Park, London 1954, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.280.
Ionel Jianou, Henry Moore, Paris 1968, p.42.
Henry Moore cited in James Johnson Sweeney, Henry Moore, New York 1946, reprinted in James 1966, p.42.
Henry Moore cited in Donald Hall, ‘Henry Moore: An Interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon, November 1960, reprinted in James 1966, pp.47–8.
Henry Moore, Henry Moore at the British Museum, London 1981, p.62.
Russell 1973, p.157.
Ibid., p.158.
Anon., ‘Art Since 1945: International Stocktaking at Kassel’, Times, 10 July 1959, p.8.
Christopher Marshall, ‘Between Beauty and Power: Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Woman as an Emblem of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Modernity 1959–68’, Art Bulletin of Victoria, vol.46, 2006, p.41.
Neumann 1959, pp.95, 97.
[David Thompson], ‘Mr Henry Moore’s Exhilarating Exhibition’, Times, 28 November 1960, p.6.
Keith Sutton, ‘Henry Moore at Whitechapel’, Listener, 8 December 1960, p.1070.
For a full account of the Kahnweiler Gift see Jennifer Mundy (ed.), Cubism and its Legacy: The Gift of Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler, exhibition catalogue, Tate Modern, London 2004.
Henry Moore sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
For a video of Moore’s Draped Reclining Woman held in the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfV--57bc7Y, accessed 23 December 2013.

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