Henry Moore OM, CH

Three-Quarter Figure


Not on display

Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Object: 391 × 232 × 130 mm
Presented by the artist 1978

Display caption

With the figure’s broad hips and swelling breasts and abdomen, Moore gives this sculpture a strongly feminine character, full of ripe fertility. It holds a strong resemblance to the Willendorf Venus, an ancient limestone figurine Moore greatly admired that was carved around 23,000 BC. However, Moore drew on very varied visual sources of inspiration for his sculpture, both human and animal. He compared Three-Quarter Figure to a hippopotamus.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry


Three-Quarter Figure was made in 1961 and served as the original plaster model from which an edition of bronze sculptures was cast. The sculpture appears to present an upright figure with a broad, flat back, although the various bulbous protrusions that emerge from the front are largely abbreviated and only loosely reminiscent of human features. The uppermost part of the sculpture resembles most clearly a neck and a projecting head, while the rounded forms at the top of the torso may be understood to represent either shoulders or breasts depending on the viewpoint. A central bulbous protrusion occupies the position of the belly and projects sharply outwards creating recesses above and below (fig.1). At the base, another frontal swelling provides support for the sculpture but cannot be said to represent any particular anatomical feature.
When seen from the front the sides of the sculpture are revealed to be asymmetrical, but nonetheless evoke the form of a curvaceous female standing figure. The left side features a prominent hip, which projects out sharply into a point, while the shoulder above also protrudes more noticeably than the equivalent form on the right (fig.2). The sculpture is notable for the row of misaligned rectangular forms that are embedded into the front of the figure’s waist, which may represent a belt (fig.3).

Although the body of the sculpture appears to be suggestive of a human female, the head is more reminiscent of an animal. It has a long, wide snout, at the end of which two equally-spaced circular incisions appear to represent nostrils. Raised ridges running down either side of the head are suggestive of eyes (fig.4). The projecting surfaces of the head, and the forehead and snout in particular, are much smoother than the heavily textured main body of the sculpture.

Sources and interpretation

The Henry Moore Gift

Alice Correia
April 2013


Anita Feldman, ‘Moore: The Plasters’, in Anita Feldman and Malcolm Woodward, Henry Moore: Plasters, London 2011, p.12.
Ibid., p.19.
Henry Moore cited in Henry J. Seldis, Henry Moore in America, New York 1973, p.222.
Alan G. Wilkinson, Henry Moore Remembered: The Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Toronto 1987, p.18.
Feldman 2011, p.11.
[Richard Calvocoressi], ‘Three-Quarter Figure’, The Tate Gallery 1978–80: IllustratedCatalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.130.
Henry Moore cited in Arnold Haskell ‘On Carving’, New English Weekly, 5 May 1932, pp.65–6.
Ibid., p.90.
John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.366.
This Egyptian sculpture had been acquired by Moore’s friends Robert and Lisa Sainsbury in 1950. Moore had encouraged the Sainsburys’ interest in non-Western art and, given their close relationship, it is likely that he would have seen the Sainsburys’ hippopotamus during one of his visits to their home.
W.J. Strachan, Henry Moore: Animals, London 1983, p.134.
Sir John Rothenstein, letter to Henry Moore, 14 August 1964, Tate Archive TGA 8726/3/11.
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the records for the exhibition. See Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.

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