Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore Letter to John Rothenstein 9 November 1941

In the exhibition was a number of Moore’s recent Shelter Drawings, depicting sleeping and sheltering figures seeking refuge from the German aerial bombings in the tunnels of the London Underground. A Shelter Drawing belonging to Maynard Keynes has been returned to the wrong lender and in this letter to John Rothenstein Moore tried to help by providing thumbnail illustrations of the various Shelter Drawings that had been sent to Leeds and identifying their owners.


Sunday Nov 9th 1941.
                                             Perry Green
                                             Much Hadham
Dear [John Rothenstein]
 I got your letter yesterday, enclosing Keynes’s reply and your letter to him about the CAS drawings of mine on exhibition at the Ashmolean.
 It’s difficult for me to be sure without seeing the actual drawings just what has got mixed up.
 There were quite a few mistakes at first in the catalogue of the Temple Newsam exhibition, which I went through and corrected with Hendy on the opening day,– but I haven’t got a copy of the corrected catalogue to help me.
 But you are right in thinking that the number of my drawings Mr Keynes got for the C.A.S. was six. And he bought for himself 3 from me at the same time. His three I sent to Leeds and am pretty sure I wrote on the back that they were lent by him, and I think his three were called in the leeds catalogue.
1. Air Raid Shelter – Three Sleepers
(this is of three people sleeping
something like this [arrow pointing to sketch of Three Sleepers drawing]
2. Air Raid Shelter – Sleepers
(more or less monochrome drawing in mauvish blue grey.) [sketch of Sleepers drawing]
3. Air raid scene
(a smaller drawing than the first two, of three figures, one standing, one seated and one reclining with a background of ‘blitzed’ houses. – The figures are drawn or touched up with pen and ink – The whole drawing is pinkish-brown – or terracotta pink) [sketch of three figures]
[arrow pointing to third sketch] This no.3 seems as though it is one sent by mistake to Oxford and it fits this description, it belongs to Mr Keynes. Do you know if [end of p.1] he’s had his three drawings sent back to him – or did he continue the loan of them, as the Leeds exhibition (or part of it) has gone on tour under the Adult Education Scheme – If 3 drawings were sent back to him, and yet the air raid scene at Oxford is one of his, then there’s a mistake in his three, too.
 The fifth Shelter Drawing you mention at Oxford, of two draped figures in a brick shelter sounds like one belonging to Kenneth Clark – it’s something like this [arrow pointing to sketch of two figures] with more than usually realistic heads (for me) and it’s as you say grey blue.
 So if of the two out of the seven at Oxford, one is Keynes’s and one is Clark’s, then there’s one C.A.S. drawing been sent somewhere wrong.
 I hope the other 5 are C.A.S. drawings, otherwise it’s going to take a little time to sort things out – If you’d like a description of the six C.A.S. drawings I think with a little concentration I could remember them and do little drawings of them as above.
 Yrs sincerely
                   Henry Moore

How to cite

Henry Moore, Letter to John Rothenstein, 9 November 1941, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/henry-moore/henry-moore-letter-to-john-rothenstein-r1145363, accessed 20 February 2019.