1959, cast 1960
Bronze on a Hoptonwood limestone base
121 x 375 x 130 mm
Presented by the artist 1978
Artist’s copy aside from an edition of 12
Technique and condition
The bronze has been artificially patinated to achieve a variegated green and brown colour (fig.2). First, a layer of transparent brown patina was applied, probably using a solution of potassium polysulphide (also known as ‘liver of sulphur’), followed by a more opaque pale green patina on top. There are many different patina recipes used to produce green colours on bronzes but they often contain mixtures of copper and ammonium salts dissolved in water. The solution is usually applied in successive layers until the desired colour is achieved. The green patina has been lightly abraded on the sculpture’s high points to reveal the underlying brown colour. Lastly, a clear wax was applied to protect the coloured surface.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2011, in Alice Correia, ‘Bird 1959, cast 1960 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, April 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
The bill comprises a wide upper mandible with a flat upper surface and a thinner lower mandible containing a large hole at its far end. This hole appears to delineate the shape of a pelican’s dip netting bill – a large fold of skin connected to a pelican’s lower mandible that acts rather like a net (fig.1). On the right side of the bird the jawline curves smoothly into the wing, underneath which deep recesses evoke the shapes of a skeletal structure. The peaked curve connecting the upper mandible and the wing complicates any sense of anatomical legibility in that the body appears to occupy the position of a head. Similarly, from certain angles the crests of the wings may also be understood to represent eyes. Both wings extend backwards and form a long tail with scalloped edges suggestive of feathers (fig.2). Moore paid particular attention to the surfaces of the wings and tail, marking them with a series of cross-hatched lines to evoke a feathery texture.
From plaster to bronze
Origins and development
The Henry Moore Gift
How to cite
Alice Correia, ‘Bird 1959, cast 1960 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, April 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www