Henry Moore OM, CH

Two Piece Reclining Figure No.5

1963–4, cast date unknown

Not on display

Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Object: 2375 × 3683 × 1988 mm
Presented by the artist 1978

Display caption

Henry Moore stated that in his work he was obsessed by two themes, the Mother and Child and the Reclining Figure. This is a major example of the second theme, with the upright piece representing the head and torso, while the lower piece represents the legs of the figure. Moore's reclining figures are always female because he equated woman with life, survival, fecundity and endurance. This work is one of two that Moore made as prototypes for a reclining figure commissioned for the new Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts in New York. The figure was to be twenty-eight feet long and seventeen feet high.

Gallery label, March 1997

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Catalogue entry


Made in 1963–4, Two Piece Reclining Figure No.5 is the fifth work in a series of two-piece sculptures that Moore began in 1959 and developed throughout the 1960s. It comprises two separate bronze forms attached to a bronze base that together represent a reclining human figure, although the boulder-like shapes of the forms, coupled with their separation, render this identification problematic (fig.1).
The vertically orientated form contains more elements identifiable with the human body, most notably an upright protrusion that occupies the position of a head, which features two flat sides separated by a vertical ridge akin to a nose (fig.2). The central mass of this section of the body is thin and long, although bulbous forms emerge from the area just below the head and may denote shoulders or breasts, although on one side these forms contain oval-shaped depressions. Two truncated appendages made up of flat and rounded faces project outwards from the central body at different angles into the gap between the two separate pieces of the sculpture and may be regarded as limbs (fig.3).

From certain angles the other piece of the sculpture appears to be comprised of two interlocking forms, but the flat surface facing the gap between the two parts of the sculpture reveals that this single unit has been sculpted so that two forms appear to project from this face at different heights and angles (fig.4). One of these extends diagonally upwards from the base in the shape of a cylinder before swelling into a bulbous mass, while the other form arches over and around it until it reaches the base. Viewed from one side of the sculpture these two forms might be deemed to represent one leg crossing another (fig.5). Although Moore’s large-scale reclining figures are usually identified as female, the gender of the figure is not stated in the title nor easily ascertained by looking at the sculpture itself.

Sources and themes

The Henry Moore Gift and loan to Kenwood House

Alice Correia
August 2013


Henry Moore at Perry Green, London 2011, p.17.
Henry Moore cited in Albert Elsen, ‘Henry Moore’s Reflections on Sculpture’, Art Journal, vol.26, no.4, summer 1967, p.355.
Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 7 June 1963, transcript of Third Programme, BBC Radio, broadcast 14 July 1963, Tate Archive TGA 200816, p.18. (An edited version of this interview was published in Listener, 29 August 1963, pp.305–7.)
Moore cited in Gemma Levine, With Henry Moore: The Artist at Work, London 1978, p.57.
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.226.
Henry Moore cited in John Hedgecoe, Henry Moore, London 1968, p.300.
Henry Moore in ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 1963, p.10.
See Roger Berthoud, The Life of Henry Moore, 1987, 2nd edn, London 2003, pp.323–4.
Henry Moore, letter to Heinz Ohff, 8 March 1967, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.
See ‘Henry Moore Talking to David Sylvester’, 1963, pp.3–4.
Henry Moore, ‘Two-Piece Reclining Figures 1959 and 1960’, artist’s statement sent to Martin Butlin, 13 April 1961, Tate Artist Catalogue File, Henry Moore, A23945, reprinted in Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, Tate Gallery Catalogue: The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, p.28.
Berthoud 2003, p.343.
Alan Bowness (ed.), Henry Moore. Volume 4: Complete Sculpture 1964–73, London 1977, p.39.
Erich Neumann, The Archetypal World of Henry Moore, London 1959, pp.23–5.
Moore cited in Hedgecoe 1968, p.75.
Richard Morphet, ‘T.2287 Two-Piece Reclining Figure No.3’, in The Tate Gallery 1978–80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981, p.130.
Donald Hall, Henry Moore: The Life and Work of a Great Sculptor, London 1966, p.160.
See John Hedgecoe, Henry Moore: My Ideas, Inspiration and Life as an Artist, London 1986, p.35.
See Elsen 1967 and, for example, Neumann 1959.
Elsen 1967, p.354.
Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Modern Art, New York 1953, p.204.
Ibid., pp.204–5.
Henry Moore, ‘Statement for Unit One’, in Herbert Read (ed.), Unit One: The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, London 1934, pp.29–30, cited in Read 1953, p.207.
Elsen 1967, p.355.
Christa Lichtenstern, Henry Moore: Work-Theory-Impact, London 2008, p.241.
Henry Moore, ‘Sculpture for Landscape’, in Selection, Winchester 1962, pp.12, 15, reprinted in Wilkinson 2002, p.245.
Alan Bowness, Greater London Council Exhibition, Battersea Park, London 1966, exhibition catalogue, Battersea Park, London 1966, unpaginated.
David Sylvester, Henry Moore, exhibition catalogue,Tate Gallery, London 1968, p.93.
See ‘Note on the Henry Moore Gift’, 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the exhibition’s records; see Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
Norman Reid, letter to Mary Danowski, 31 August 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
‘T.2294 Henry Moore, Two Piece Reclining Figure No.5 (1963–4)’, Tate Conservation Report, January 1981, Tate Conservation Records.
Ian Dejardin, ‘Henry Moore Bronze Sculpture in Kenwood Park’, memo to Tate, 2 July 1992, Tate Conservation Records.
‘T.2294 Henry Moore, Two Piece Reclining Figure No.5 (1963–4), Long Term Loan to English Heritage, Kenwood House. Summary’, Tate Conservation Records.
Jehannine Mauduech, email to Tate, 25 October 2000, Tate Conservation Records.
See Henry Moore’s sales log book, Henry Moore Foundation Archive.

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