Plaster on a wood base
270 x 216 x 295 mm
Presented by the artist 1978
Technique and condition
Moore would have made the head by building up successive layers of wet plaster over a supportive armature made of metal or wood. After the plaster had dried and hardened he would have filed the surface and used abrasives to produce the final smooth finish. This process has removed almost all evidence of the tool marks that would originally have been seen on the surface although there are still some visible in the nostril and the hollow of the mouth (fig.1) as well as some linear marks at the back of the head.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2011, in Alice Correia, ‘Animal Head 1951 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, February 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
From the back of the head can be seen two holes of uneven size that run all the way through the plaster (fig.4). While the hole that can be seen on the right side of the head resembles an eye socket (see fig.1), the hole that penetrates the left side does not. Instead, on the left side an eye socket is suggested by another deep rounded recess that is positioned half-way down the length of the head (fig.5). These asymmetrical features reveal that Moore was not concerned with representing a real animal head with anatomical accuracy.
At first I used to have a tremendous shock going from the white plaster model to the finished bronze sculpture ... The main difference is that bronze takes on a density and weight altogether unlike plaster. Plaster has a ghost-like unreality in contrast to the solid strength of the bronze.3
Because the maquette for Animal Head was made in Moore’s plaster studio, amid his ‘library of natural forms’, there are no preparatory drawings relating specifically to the sculpture. However, in 1950 Moore did make seven pages of related studies of animal heads and fantastical animals. Although the order in which Moore made these drawings is uncertain, it is possible that he began with some naturalistic sketches, such as that of the cow’s head in the lower right of Animal Studies c.1950 (fig.9), and developed these into more abstract creatures, as seen in Animal Heads c.1950 (fig.10).16 These drawings reveal that Moore was aware of the anatomical structure of animals, and was curious about how these living beings might be expressed creatively.
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Animal Head 1951 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, February 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www