Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore Letter to Raymond Coxon (Sven) Undated, postmarked 8 February 1925

In February 1925 Moore was at the beginning of a three-month travel scholarship, awarded on his graduation from the Royal Collage of Art the previous summer. In this letter to his best friend Raymond (or, here, Sven, short for Svengali) Coxon, Moore revealed that he found Paris a ‘dull hole’ (‘nothing of any great interest seems to be going on, & the place itself hasn’t the variety of London’). He even disliked the women (‘my opinion of the Paris women is lower than ever’).
However, he kept busy in attending life classes and in visiting museums and collecting reproductions of important works. He had been amazed by a room in the Musée Guimet with a cast of an Indian sculpture of a standing male nude (‘one of the finest pieces of sculpture I’ve ever seen’). He regretted that he was travelling with fellow scholarship holder Norman Dawson, rather than Coxon, and talked about his plans to go on from Paris to tour northern Italy, seeing Turin, Pisa and Genoa.

Transcript

[Handwritten:]
Saturday Night.
                                             Hotel Celtik
                                             Paris
Dear old Sven,
 You were right about Paris, it’s a dull hole, nothing of any great interest seems to be going on, and the place itself hasn’t the variety of London, – I’ve given up all the notions I had of wanting to settle down here for a few months or a year – no a week is enough –
 We’ve made one discovery though. You remember Rothy giving me the address of a museum which I lost, well we’ve found it. The Musée Guimet, containing mostly Indian sculpture. There’s one room in particular, a real stunner, and one figure in it (or rather a cast – I’d give anything to see the original), a standing male nude, that is one of the finest pieces if sculpture I’ve ever seen – I’ve managed to get hold of photographs of most of the best ones, when I’ve had the pleasure of these reproductions for a little while and when I begin to get stocked out with others I’ll send them asking for you to enjoy – Upstairs in the Musée Guimet are some heads (sculptures and paintings from Antinous – Greco-Egyptian I believe – They remind me of the ones in the National – (and those in the Mond collection at the Tate) – There are about 15 [end of p.1] paintings and about fifty heads in the round – all very wonderful – big and full of character, intensely alive – and some remarkably realistic, like Rembrandt – you mustn’t fail to see them when next time you trot over to Paris. – I think on my way back I shall spend four or five days making drawings of them and of the Indian sculptures.
 Apart from the Musée Guimet, the only other place in Paris is the Louvre – and that’s no better, if as good, as our National – We’ve spent most of our time in the Louvre – the new experience I’ve made is Mantegna – but Italy I believe is the place for him – oh I suppose you know they’ve got photographic reproductions of many of the best things in the Louvre – I haven’t bought any, but intend to on my return journey, if by then you’ve not been again to Paris, let me know what reproductions you’d like and I’ll try to get them – it has just come into my mind, that anyhow I might have sent you a repro of Ingres Turkish Bath rondel – it would have made up for the lack of nudes on the way of 3 Grove studios – we might go to the Louvre again tomorrow, if so and the repro- stalls are open, I’ll get one and send it on to you –
 We are leaving Paris tomorrow night by the 10.20 for Turin – we shall probably have a day there and then go onto Genoa, a day there and then onto Pisa, and from there to Rome, we shall [end of p.2] therefore, probably arrive in Rome, sometime in the middle or towards the end of next week – if it’s not too much trouble Sven will you send on the Baedeker photographs to me c/o Messrs. Cook and Son.
 54 Prayya e Sedra
 Rome
 Has Gin left Rome for Florence yet? I’ve written to Bob telling him when I’m likely to arrive in Rome and I enclosed a little note for Gin.
 Dawson is alright, he seems better away from the Freidman clique – but I think in a week or a fortnight’s time I shall have had enough of him and shall quietly steal off one day – we’ve drawn two evenings at Carlossis, but on each occasion the model wasn’t very inspiring – I wish to goodness you were here with me instead of Dawson.
 I’ll write again from Rome – telling you of what I find in Turin, Pisa and Genoa – and any repros worth collecting, I’ll collect for you. – Remember me to everybody – Eppy, Bouk, Betts, Betty and Wheeler if you’re on speaking terms with her. Oh did you remember to let Cockell have the Rembrandt work?? This isn’t much of a letter but I’ll have more to say when I get on to the new ground.
 Yes remember me to all the women –:– my opinion of the Paris women is lower than ever – Let me have any news when you’ve some minutes to spare – Cheerio – I’ll drink to your health in Haut Barsac at tomorrow’s dinner.
Toujours Peacham.

How to cite

Henry Moore, Letter to Raymond Coxon (Sven), Undated, postmarked 8 February 1925, 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-sven-r1145418, accessed 21 April 2019.