Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore Letter to Martin Butlin 9 May 1961

Moore here provides detailed information about works in the Tate Gallery’s collection: Composition 1932 (Tate T00385), Stringed Figure 1938/60 (Tate T00386), Recumbent Figure 1938 (Tate N05387), Family Group 1949 (Tate N06004) and King and Queen 1952–3 (Tate T00228). This letter is also interesting for Moore’s reference to his photographs that he included with the letter. Moore regularly took photographs of his own sculptures, and here subtly suggested that the gallery might like to make a set of postcards from them.


Much Hadham 66                              HOGLANDS,
                                            PERRY GREEN,
                                            MUCH HADHAM,
[Typescript with handwritten corrections and signature:]
9th May 1961.
Dear Martin Butlin,
 Thank you for your letter of 2nd May.
 My secretary has looked through my past accounts and finds that my wife purchased the AFRICAN WONDERSTONE COMPOSITION from Michael Ventris, in November 1955, before he died.
 The STRINGED FIGURE is just ordinary bronze, but highly polished, it is not a special alloy, so it could be called polished bronze with elastic string.
 About the Tate Horton Stone RECUMBENT FIGURE: Serge Chermayeff, the architect, had it at the end of a terrace on a house he built at Halland in Sussex. Later Chermayeff (it was a vey bad period for architecture generally) told me he was not able to pay for he figure, and asked me to take the figure back because he was selling the house, and emigrating to Canada, so the figure came back into my possession, and Kenneth Clark, who that year was the buyer for the Contemporary Art Society purchased the sculpture and it was presented to the Tate.
 FAMILY GROUP: The first cast of this was done in 1949 for F.R.S. Yorke, for his school at Stevenage, and was put up there, and is still there. Further casts of it went to the Museum of Modern Art, New York; - the Tate Gallery; - and Nelson D. Rockefeller, New York City.
 KING AND QUEEN: The first cast of this sculpture was shown at the Open Air exhibition, Middelheim Park, [end of p.1] Antwerp in 1953, and was bought by them, and is part of the Middelheim permanent collection.
 It is perfectly all right for you to keep the photographs as long as you like, in fact, perhaps hold onto them permanently, if you wish. Perhaps they may be very useful should the Gallery intend to do any postcards from them.
 I have always got copies of them since they are my own negatives, and where you might think my photograph is satisfactory, there might be no need for your photographer to take them again.
 Yours sincerely,
               Henry Moore

How to cite

Henry Moore, Letter to Martin Butlin, 9 May 1961, 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-martin-butlin-r1145475, accessed 22 April 2019.