Maquette for Madonna and Child
1943, cast 1944–5
155 x 85 x 70 mm
Inscribed ‘Moore’ on side of base
In an edition of at least 5 plus one artist’s copy
Purchased from the artist through the Berkeley Galleries (Knapping Fund) 1945
Technique and condition
The bronze surface has been coloured using chemical patination techniques. First, a slightly transparent brown colour was applied over the entire surface, followed by a more opaque green colour, which was then rubbed back on the high points using a light abrasive to pick out the details of the form (fig.1). The patina was then finished with a coating of wax. The brown base colour is often used on bronzes and is likely to have been applied using a solution of potassium polysulphide (otherwise known as ‘liver of sulphur’) in water. There are many different patina recipes used to produce green colours on bronzes but they often contain mixtures of copper and ammonium salts.
How to citeLyndsey Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', March 2011, in Robert Sutton, ‘Maquette for Madonna and Child 1943, cast 1944–5 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, December 2012, revised by Alice Correia, March 2014, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www
The sculpture was intended as a representation of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, and is one of a series of preparatory maquettes sculpted by Moore in the spring and early summer of 1943. These maquettes were made to test designs for a large stone sculpture of the Madonna and Child, commissioned to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the consecration of St Matthew’s Church in Northampton. This was Moore’s first major public commission and provided the artist with an opportunity to develop his long-standing interest in the mother and child theme in line with more traditional representations of the subject, which suited the commission’s demands. Of the five maquettes presented to the commissioner in July 1943, this design was ultimately chosen to be enlarged into the final sculpture, which was carved in Hornton stone and dedicated in St Matthew’s Church on 19 February 1944 (fig.2).
Sources and development
In 1946 the critic Mary Sorrell proposed that Moore’s Madonna and Child drew heavily upon Italian Renaissance depictions of the subject, noting that, ‘The perfect foundation was Masaccio, idealistic but at the same time human, and he again stimulated the sculptor by his simple and unerring form’.27 Moore’s Madonna and Child certainly shares compositional affinities with Masaccio’s Madonna and Child 1426 (fig.6), in which the infant Jesus is positioned on his mother’s knee, looking straight out towards the viewer while the Virgin turns to the side. Moore was familiar with this painting, which is in the National Gallery, London, and expressed his admiration for Masaccio’s work in his 1937 essay ‘The Sculptor Speaks’.28 Moore had also studied examples of fifteenth-century Italian sculpture while he was a student at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London in the early 1920s, during which time he carved a copy of the Virgin’s head from Domenico Rosselli’s relief sculpture Virgin and Child 1450–98 (fig.7).29 On graduating from the RCA in 1924 Moore was awarded a six-month travel grant intended to facilitate the study of the arts of Renaissance Italy. Although he wanted to spend all of his time in Paris, Moore nonetheless travelled throughout Italy during the first part of 1925 and was impressed by the wall paintings of Giotto, Orcagna, Lorenzetti and Taddeo Gaddi, as well as Masaccio. However, in 1947 he recalled that,
Casting the maquettes
Moore and the Tate collection
How to cite
Robert Sutton, ‘Maquette for Madonna and Child 1943, cast 1944–5 by Henry Moore OM, CH’, catalogue entry, December 2012, revised by Alice Correia, March 2014, in Henry Moore: Sculptural Process and Public Identity, Tate Research Publication, 2015, https://www