Henry Moore OM, CH

Maquette for Family Group

1943, cast 1944–5

Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Object: 137 × 114 × 67 mm
Purchased 1945

Display caption

These maquettes, or preparatory models, were made during the mid-1940s, when Moore was working on a commission
for a sculpture for a progressive school
for children and parents. The theme
of the family was particularly relevant.


In the end none of Moore's designs were chosen. Four years later he re-considered these models when planning a commission for a similarly progressive school, Barclay Secondary School in Stevenage. A cast
of the full scale Family Group he made for the school is on display in this gallery. Later still, Moore used these maquettes as source material for the other family groups.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Maquette for Family Group is one of at least fourteen small models made by Henry Moore in the mid-1940s, each of which presents a family group in different poses and configurations. This sculpture presents a seated mother and father and one small child positioned on the mother’s lap (fig.1). It was subsequently used as the template for the life-size Family Group 1954–5, carved in Hadene stone, which was commissioned for the new town of Harlow.

The sculpture presents the family group seated on a single bench positioned on a shallow rectangular base. The mother sits to the right of the father, who is positioned slightly behind her with his right arm wrapped around her back so that his hand rests on her right shoulder. A small child sits on the mother’s left thigh, with its back to the father. The adults appear to be nude, but have a blanket covering their lap, which is marked with incised horizontal lines (fig.2). Moore has presented the fabric as a single undulating form that serves to outline the curves and recesses of their thighs and knees.
The origins of this sculpture lie in the mid-1930s, when the German architect Walter Gropius proposed to Moore that he make a large-scale sculpture for a school in Impington, near Cambridge, which was designed by Gropius and Maxwell Fry in 1935–6 and opened in 1939. The college was designed to be a flexible space that catered for all the family, acting as the focal point for the entire community.1 Moore later recalled discussing the commission with Henry Morris, Chief Education Officer for Cambridgeshire County Council:

Moore and the Tate Collection

Harlow Family Group 1954–5

Alice Correia
March 2014


See Harry Rée, Educator Extraordinary: The Life and Achievement of Henry Morris, London 1973, pp.70–2.
Henry Moore cited in Farewell Night, Welcome Day, television programme, broadcast BBC, 4 January 1963, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.89.
Henry Moore, letter to Dorothy Miller, 31 January 1951, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.273.
Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 7 June 1963, transcript of Third Programme, broadcast BBC Radio, 14 July 1963, Tate Archive TGA 200816, p.13. (An edited version of this interview was published in the Listener, 29 August 1963, pp.305–7.)
Ibid., p.16.
See David Sylvester (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 1: Complete Sculpture 1921–48, 1957, 5th edn, London 1988, pp.14–15.
See Ann Garrould (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 3: Complete Drawings 1940–49, Much Hadham 2001, p.195, no.43.105.
David Sylvester, ‘The Evolution of Henry Moore’s Sculpture II’, Burlington Magazine, vol.90, no.544, July 1948, p.190.
‘Interviews with Bernard Meadows’, 4 January 1995, Henry Moore Foundation Archive, p.56.
‘Interviews with Bernard Meadows’, 22 November 1994, Henry Moore Foundation Archive, p.46.
Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, 1987, revised edn, London 2003, p.183. Manson’s remark was cited by Sainsbury during an interview undertaken by Berthoud in May 1983.
Henry Moore, letter to John Rothenstein, 12 August 1944, Tate Public Records TG 1/6/36.
Minutes of Trustees Meeting, 15 February 1945, Tate Public Record TG 1/3/5.
Anon., ‘Mr. Moore’s “Family Group”’, Times, 18 May 1956, p.3.

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