Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore Letter to Raymond Coxon and Edna Ginesi (Ray & Gin) 29 March 1934

Here Moore asks Raymond Coxon and Edna Ginesi whether they, too, had received a request from the Leicester Galleries, London, to sign a letter expressing support for the sculptor Leon Underwood as an influential figure in modern British art. Underwood had been a life drawing tutor at the Royal College of Art (RCA) from 1920 to 1923 and had taught both Moore and Coxon. Following his resignation from the RCA, Underwood, persuaded by Moore, Coxon and others, founded the Brook Green School of Drawing at Girdlers Road in west London.
Moore went to Underwood’s evening classes after studying at the Royal College one or two evenings a week and found the lessons valuable. (‘Underwood’s enthusiasm & intensity & insistence that drawing was the representation of solid form was a great stimulus’). However, he did not want to give the impression that he was the ‘product of Underwood’s Private School’, and politely declined to sign the letter, which, if it garnered enough signatures would have been published in a catalogue to an exhibition of Underwood’s work at the Leicester Galleries. Throughout his career Moore rarely acknowledged the importance of other tutors or contemporary artists, preferring instead to emphasise the influence of great figures of the past such as Michelangelo or Masaccio.

Transcript

[Handwritten:]
                                   Jasmine Cottage
                                   Barfrestone
                                   Nr. Dover
                                   Thursday – March 29th
Dear Ray and Gin,
 We came here on Saturday, but spent until Tuesday morning with Mother and Betty and Rowland and now I’m getting down to wood carving I’d started here.
 When we got back here on Tuesday there was a letter from the Leicester Galleries and enclosed in it a letter drafted out I imagine by Underwood’s present students, boosting him as their master – and the Leicester Galleries asked if I’d sign it too – I wonder if you both have also been asked to sign it. I wrote back to the Leicester galleries saying that I didn’t think I could sign it as it would give the impression that I was a product of Underwood’s Private School. I said that several of us [end of p.1] while as students at the College went for a period of one or two evenings a week after College work hours were over to Underwood’s drawing classes which he held in his studio and that I found these very valuable, Underwood’s enthusiasm and intensity and insistence that drawing was the representation of solid form was a great stimulus.
 I’ve also written to Underwood telling him why I didn’t think I could sign his letter (which of course he won’t like).
 Evidently it’s all intended to help Underwood’s exhibition which opens soon at the Leicester – and the letter if it got the right number of signatures in time would be printed as a leaflet with the catalogue.
 Irina and I are very curious to know if you too have heard anything about it. If not I’ll tell you more in detail about the letter when we meet – for it really is a bit much of a good thing.
 We thought of you last Friday Night. Did you enjoy it? Hope you’re getting a few early nights now – we’ve picked up an hour or two.
 Love to you both from both
                Harry

How to cite

Henry Moore, Letter to Raymond Coxon and Edna Ginesi (Ray & Gin), 29 March 1934, 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-raymond-coxon-and-edna-ginesi-ray-amp-gin-r1145438, accessed 23 April 2019.