Henry Moore OM, CH

Three Motives Against a Wall No.1

1958, cast 1959

Not on display

Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Bronze on copper and wooden base
Object: 505 × 1080 × 440 mm
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Catalogue entry


Three Motives Against a Wall No.1 comprises three individual amorphous forms positioned in a row on a stage-like platform set against an upright rectangular wall. The platform and rear wall are joined together to create a right-angled unit, which is mounted onto a copper-covered wooden base. The wall is textured with a wood-grain effect and is imprinted with an arrangement of square and rectangular depressions. Although none of the three forms or motives depicts a realistic human figure, each one is reminiscent of a human body and has an identifiable head supported by a torso. They are positioned on individual plinths of differing shapes and sizes and can be identified from left to right as a seated figure, a reclining figure and a standing figure.
The seated figure on the left (fig.1) has a bulbous head and a long neck. A ridge runs down the length of the long tubular body from the neck to the waist while two curved shoulders lead down to arms. The right arm has been cut just below the shoulder, leaving just a stump, but the left arm extends backwards before curving down and around to the waist. The hips are wide and the buttocks sit on a textured cuboid plinth. Individual legs have not been distinguished, although a depression has been made in the figure’s lap that accentuates the rise of the right knee and gives the impression that the left knee is tucked underneath the right. The lower half of the figure thins to a single conical point at its base. Overall the curve of the body and legs gives the impression that the figure is leaning backwards and slouching.
The central motive (fig.2) is the least naturalistic of the three figures and may be understood as a reclining figure in that the whole body is angled on a table-like plinth. Made up of sweeping forms, the body consists of a roughly modelled head attached to a long thrusting neck and shoulders that merge into an undulating protrusion that pushes out from the torso and might represent breasts. There are no discernable arms and the single form that takes the place of the legs arches upwards before thinning and curving back down towards the plinth. From the raised knee two spurs project outwards like fronds. Beneath this curved knee is an arched space through which the rear wall can be seen.

From plaster to bronze

Origins and development

Ownership history

Alice Correia
March 2013


[Judith Collins], ‘T.03763 Three Motives Against a Wall No.1’, The Tate Gallery 1984–86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982–84, London 1988, p.542.
See Henry Moore at Perry Green, London 2011, p.17.
See Henry Moore’s sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
Henry Moore cited in Donald Hall, ‘Henry Moore: An Interview by Donald Hall’, Horizon, November 1960, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, p.234.
Anita Feldman Bennet, ‘Figures in Architectural Settings – the UNESCO Experiments’ in David Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore and the Challenge of Architecture, Much Hadham 2005, p.22.
See, for example, Herbert Read, Henry Moore: A Study of his Life and Work, London 1965, pp.212–19, and Julian Stallabrass, ‘Three Motives against Wall No.1’, in David Mitchinson (ed.), Celebrating Moore: Works from the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, London, 2006, pp.256–8.
Henry Moore cited in David Sylvester (ed.), Sculpture and Drawings by Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1951, p.4.
Herbert Read, ‘Introduction’, in Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 3: Sculpture and Drawings 1955–64, 1965, revised edn, London 1986, p.6.
Collins 1988, p.542.
Bowness 1965, pp.32–3, no.424.
Read in Bowness 1965, p.216.
Robert Melville, Henry Moore: Sculpture and Drawings 1921–1969, London 1970, p.12.
Alan G. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.177.
Erich Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London 1959, p.76.
David Sylvester, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1968, p.54.
Henry Moore cited in Hall 1960, pp.104, 113, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.215.
W.J. Strachan, Henry Moore: Animals, London 1983, pp.101–2.
Neumann 1959, p.74.
Stallabrass 2006, p.256. See also Alice Correia, ‘Working Model for Reclining Figure (Lincoln Center) 1963–5, cast date unknown by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, in Anne Wagner, Robert Sutton (eds.), Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research/content/1171994?project=4, accessed 17 April 2015.
Carol Hogben, letter to Henry Moore, 9 August 1960, Victoria and Albert Museum Archive MA/1/M2611.
Henry Moore, letter to Carol Hogben, 16 August 1960, Victoria and Albert Museum Archive MA/1/M2611.
Carol Hogben, letter to Henry Moore, 30 May 1961, Victoria and Albert Museum Archive MA/1/M2611
Henry Moore, letter to Carol Hogben, 5 June 1961, Victoria and Albert Museum Archive MA/1/M2611.
School Loans Prospectuses (MA/17/1); Travelling Exhibitions Available for Loan to Public Museums, Art Galleries and Public Libraries Prospectuses (MA/17/2); Exhibitions for Loan to Museums, Art Galleries and Libraries Prospectuses (MA/17/3/4); Exhibitions for Loan to Museums, Art Galleries and Libraries Prospectuses (MA/17/5), Victoria and Albert Museum Archive.
Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale, 7 November 2007, Christie’s, New York, lot 491.

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