Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore Letter to John Rothenstein 12 August 1944

Moore here responds to the suggestion made by John Rothenstein, Director of the Tate Gallery, that he develop one of the preparatory studies for his sculpture, Madonna and Child 1944 (St. Matthew’s Church, Northampton) into a large scale sculpture made specially for the Tate Gallery. Rothenstein was keen for Tate to hold a major sculpture by Moore in its collection, and while Moore was flattered by the suggestion, he was reluctant to return to a subject he had worked with over a year before and suggested instead the gallery consider some studies of ‘The Family’ he had finished only a month ago. In 1945 the Tate Gallery bought four bronze maquettes for the Northampton Madonna and Child 1943–44 (Tate N05600–N05603) and three bronze maquettes for an unrealised large-scale family group (Tate N05604–N05606).


                                          Perry Green
                                          Much Hadham
                                          Much Hadham 66.
                                         August 12th/1944
My dear John,
 I was very glad to get your letter about the Northampton Madonna and Child studies. I’ve taken some days before replying, partly because I’ve been very busy on some drawings, but mainly because I wanted to think over the idea you put forward.
 I was delighted when it was first mentioned, but I wasn’t able to collect the little clay studies for you all to see, first because the vicar of St Matthew’s wanted them for a time at the church, and then it was suggested tiny bronzes being made of the two of them, and some of the others to be fired at Fulham Pottery – and all this took an [end of page 1] unusually long time – and it’s now more than a year since these little studies were first done, and that’s what’s making me hesitate now over your suggestion – for it would mean putting my mind back in working to a year ago; – so I’m wondering whether it wouldn’t be a better idea to consider instead, some studies I finished about a month ago. These are for a large stone group I’ve been asked by Henry Morris, to do for Impington Village College. (Subject is ‘The Family’.)
 I’ve finished some ten or twelve small clay studies, of which there are four or five. I’m quite pleased with, and any one of these four or five I should enjoy carrying out, though I’m letting Impington have a choice between two particular ones which will best fit Impington and its site.
 But I think it would be best if we could talk about it all, perhaps better still if you yourself could see these Impington Studies.
             Yours ever
                        Henry. M.

How to cite

Henry Moore, Letter to John Rothenstein, 12 August 1944, 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-r1145484, accessed 21 May 2024.