Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity

ISBN 978-1-84976-391-2

Henry Moore OM, CH Large Slow Form 1962, cast 1968

Large Slow Form was cast in bronze in 1968 and is an enlarged version of Slow Form Tortoise, made in 1962. The sculpture is made up of five interlocking sections and evokes the shape of short-legged animal, albeit an unidentifiable one. The critic John Russell remarked in 1973: ‘Over and over again in the 1950s and 1960s Moore invented animal-forms which belong to no known bestiary and yet are quintessentially plausible’.
Henry Moore OM, CH 1898–1986
Large Slow Form
1962, cast 1968
420 x 766 x 423 mm
Inscribed ‘Moore 0/9’ on foot
Presented by the artist 1978
Artist’s copy aside from edition of 9 plus 1 artist’s copy


Henry Moore 'Large Slow Form' 1962, cast 1968
Henry Moore
Large Slow Form 1962, cast 1968
Tate T02290
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
This bronze sculpture is made up of five interlocking pieces, each of which forms a right angle. Although they are irregularly shaped, the pieces contain both sharp and rounded edges, smoothly curved surfaces and more than one projecting appendage, which enables each piece to interlock or overlap with at least two others (fig.1). Two of these limb-like forms point down to the base and serve to support the mass above from both ends. The sculpture as a whole is horizontally orientated, and is approximately as wide as it is tall.
Large Slow Form was cast in 1968 having been developed and enlarged from a smaller sculpture conceived in 1962 called Slow Form: Tortoise. Discussing this earlier work Moore commented that ‘it is one right-angled form, repeated five times, and arranged together to make an organic composition. This repeated slow right-angle reminded me of the action of a tortoise’.1 One of the pieces has a concave upper surface and terminates in an upward-facing point at one end of the form. This may be seen to serve as a kind of ‘head’, suggesting a natural orientation to the sculpture. This end is also slightly taller than the other and creates, when viewed in conjunction with the raised point at the centre of the sculpture where three pieces meet, a diagonal incline through the form.

Making Large Slow Form

Moore began work on Slow Form: Tortoise by making a small maquette of the sculpture from plaster, clay or another malleable material. When he was satisfied with the design Moore would then have scaled up the maquette in plaster (fig.2). The enlarged form would have been built by applying successive layers of plaster to a supportive armature constructed from wood or chicken wire. Once the plaster version of Slow Form: Tortoise was complete it was sent to the Art Bronze Foundry in London to be cast in bronze. The foundry technicians would have used the plaster original to create a hollow mould into which molten bronze could be poured. Slow Form: Tortoise 1962 (fig.3) was cast in an edition of nine plus one artist’s copy, and according to records held at the Henry Moore Foundation all ten sculptures were cast in 1968, six years after the original maquette was made.
Henry Moore 'Slow Form: Tortoise' 1962
Henry Moore
Slow Form: Tortoise 1962
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Henry Moore 'Slow Form: Tortoise' 1962, cast 1968
Henry Moore
Slow Form: Tortoise 1962, cast 1968
Arts Council Collection
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved

In 1968 Moore also began working up Slow Form: Tortoise to a larger scale. The dots and numbers pencilled onto the plaster version of Slow Form: Tortoise indicate that it was used as a guide for the enlarged plaster version of Large Slow Form. The enlargement work would have been carried out in the White Studio at Hoglands by Moore’s studio assistants, who in 1968 were Colin Barker, John Farnham, Ramy Shuklinsky and Yeheskiel Yardini. Moore was able to allocate the bulk of his enlargement work to others because, as curator Julie Summers has noted, it was ‘a scientific rather than artistic process’.2 Once the full-size plaster version of Large Slow Form was near completion Moore would then take over to finish the detailing of the surface.
Detail of surface texture of Large Slow Form 1962, cast 1968
Tate T02290
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The sculpture has a slightly granular texture and fine lines and tool marks indicate where Moore has worked into the surface of the original plaster (fig.4). Large Slow Form was also cast at the Art Bronze Foundry, mostly likely using the sand casting technique judging by the light, speckled texture of the finished bronze surface.
Detail of artist's signature and edition number on Large Slow Form 1962, cast 1968
Tate T02290
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The sculpture is signed ‘Moore’ and stamped with the edition number ‘0/9’ just above the lower edge of the shorter rear leg (fig.5). The sculpture was cast in an edition of nine, plus one artist’s copy, designated by the edition number 0/9. According to Moore’s former personal assistant, the curator David Mitchinson, Moore ‘would decide how large an edition to produce, usually after seeing the first cast’.3 Although Moore often cast his maquettes and mid-size working models such as Large Slow Form in editions of nine, this was not a fixed rule. Some confusion over the numbering of the edition of Large Slow Form appears to have occurred, as a version held in the collection of the Henry Moore Foundation is also stamped ‘0/9’.4 Usually the artist’s copy was only cast once all of the casts for sale had been made. However, Mitchinson accounts for this discrepancy by noting that ‘sometimes a [artist’s] cast needed for exhibition was taken out of sequence’.5 Since all nine of the sale casts have been accounted for, this means that eleven examples of Large Slow Form were produced in total.
After casting at the foundry the sculptures were returned to Moore so that he could inspect the quality of the casting and make decisions about patination. A patina is the surface colour of a sculpture and is usually achieved by applying chemical solutions to the heated bronze surface. Tate’s copy of Large Slow Form has a fairly consistent dark brown patina with lighter, golden brown areas confined largely to the sculpture’s high points.

Moore and animals

Because Moore associated the shape of Slow Form: Tortoise, and therefore Large Slow Form, with a tortoise, both sculptures have generally been regarded as examples of the artist’s engagement with animal forms. As early as 1934 the critic Herbert Read identified animals as one of Moore’s key interests. According to Read, in his animal sculptures from the 1920s Moore reduced the subject to certain basic shapes or features ‘which best denote its vitality’.6 ‘Vitality’ was a concept that Moore himself had highlighted in his 1933 statement for the publication Unit One.7 In this text Moore explained that, ‘for me a work must first have a vitality of its own. I do not mean a reflection of the vitality of life, of movement, physical action, frisking, dancing figures and so on, but that a work can have in it a pent-up energy, an intense life of its own, independent of the object it may represent’.8 This idea that ‘vitality’ conveys the essential life force of a creature more convincingly than naturalistic representation may account for the arrangement of forms in Large Slow Form.
According to W.J. Strachan, author of the publication Henry Moore: Animals (1983), ‘between 1921 and 1982 Henry Moore has made fifty-eight animal sculptures and has drawn many scores of animals – domestic, wild, fantastic’.9 Regarding Large Slow Form, Strachan proposed that as well as suggesting the movement of a tortoise, the sculpture’s surface recalled the ‘armour-plated’ hide of a rhinoceros.10 However, Strachan also noted that many of Moore’s animal sculptures took ‘liberties with reality’ and often had no clear referent in nature.11 This observation echoes the critic John Russell’s claim in 1973 that, ‘Over and over again in the 1950s and 1960s Moore invented animal-forms which belong to no known bestiary and yet are quintessentially plausible. We can’t give name to them, but we accept the fact of their existence’.12
In 2006 the sculptor Anthony Caro, who had served as Moore’s studio assistant between 1951 and 1953, wrote of Large Slow Form:
When I saw this piece in the Tate for the first time ... I got a surprise: it didn’t look like a Henry Moore. I thought it was a marvellous piece. It’s untypical ... it’s because he seems to have gone away from using flints, stones or bones as a starting point, but has invented his own forms. And it has such unity, it feels like a carving: it has that strength and weight.13

The Henry Moore Gift

Installation view of the exhibition The Henry Moore Gift, Tate Gallery, 1978
© The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved
Large Slow Form was presented by Henry Moore to the Tate Gallery in 1978 as part of the Henry Moore Gift. The Gift comprised thirty-six sculptures in bronze, marble and plaster and was exhibited in its entirety alongside Tate’s existing collection of Moore’s work in an exhibition celebrating the artist’s eightieth birthday, which opened in June 1978. A press release was duly prepared announcing that ‘The group [of sculptures] is the most substantial gift of works ever given to the Tate by an artist during his lifetime’.14 Large Slow Form was displayed in gallery twenty-one alongside Working Model for Knife Edge Two Piece 1962 (Tate T00603) and Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 1961 (Tate T02287) (fig.6). The exhibition was attended by over 20,500 people and nearly 11,000 copies of the catalogue were sold.15 At its close in late August the Director of Tate, Norman Reid, reflected in a letter to Moore’s daughter Mary Danowski that although he was sad to see the exhibition come to an end ‘we have the consolation of the splendid group of sculptures which Henry has presented to the nation’.16
Other casts of Large Slow Form are held in the collections of the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; Hakone Open Air Museum, Japan; and The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green.

Alice Correia
April 2013


Henry Moore cited in John Hedgecoe (ed.), Henry Moore, London 1968, p.365.
Julie Summers, ‘Fragment of Maquette for King and Queen’, in Claude Allemand-Cosneau, Manfred Fath and David Mitchinson (eds.), Henry Moore From the Inside Out: Plasters, Carvings and Drawings, Munich 1996, p.126.
David Mitchinson, ‘The Henry Moore Foundation’s Collection’, in David Mitchinson (ed.), Celebrating Moore: Works from the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, London 2006, p.20.
Herbert Read, Henry Moore: Sculptor, London 1934, p.13.
Henry Moore, ‘Statement for Unit One’, in Herbert Read (ed.), Unit One: The Modern Movement in English Architecture, Painting and Sculpture, London 1934, pp.29–30, reprinted in Alan Wilkinson (ed.), Henry Moore: Writings and Conversations, Aldershot 2002, pp.191–3.
Ibid., p.192.
W.J. Strachan, Henry Moore: Animals, London 1983, p.9.
Ibid., p.25.
Ibid., p.18.
John Russell, Henry Moore, London 1973, p.184
Anthony Caro, ‘Large Slow Form’, in David Mitchinson (ed.), Celebrating Moore: Works from the Collection of the Henry Moore Foundation, London 2006, p.273
See ‘Note on the Henry Moore Gift’, 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.
These figures are based on those listed in a memo in the exhibition’s records; see Tate Public Records TG 92/344/2.
Norman Reid, letter to Mary Danowski, 31 August 1978, Tate Public Records TG 4/6/10/4.

How to cite

Alice Correia, ‘Large Slow Form 1962, cast 1968 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, April 2013, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/henry-moore/henry-moore-om-ch-large-slow-form-r1172011, accessed 25 June 2024.